All that you have is your soul (Tracy Chapman).

Sunday, 31 December 2006

2 0 0 6

I recently purchased a DVD box set of the Spaghetti Westerns, so I thought it would be an interesting idea to look back over my last twelve months and recall the events that were good, bad and ahem....ugly!

The Good

Watching Michal (6) teach herself to read over the summer, to the extent that by the end of the year, she is at the same level as her seven-and-a-half year old sister.

Celebrating ten years of marriage - and being truly amazed that my wife has still managed to stick by me. G-d the woman is courageous.

Successfully completing my NQT qualification and becoming a "real" teacher.

The trip to Liverpool (possibly the highlight of the year).

Finally buying that laptop I'd promised myself.

Celebrating my parents' 45th anniversary.

Helping my mother choose a new Tom Tom satellite navigation system and knowing that as a result, her arguments with my dad will have immediately halved.

Getting a nice pay-out from the insurance company after one of our cars was written-off when someone drove into the rear and damaged the bumper.

Having our cousins J. and his daughter A. come and stay with us for a week...and seeing a picture of Dana in biker gear. Also meeting cousin JF again for the first time in twenty odd years.

Dassi meeting her idol, Jacqueline Wilson.

Tali loosing some more teeth.

Shira starting kindergarten and then nursery.

Finally getting Broadband.

Discovering that Krispy Kreme donuts are Kosher.




The Bad

Having to deal with some truly horrendous students. Particularly in 8J.

The limitless amount of money we seem to be spending to keep on repairing our family car (yup, the same one that was hit.

Finding out the bitter truth that Twinkie Bars are no longer Kosher (a definite low point).

The Status Quo concert (sorry Larry).

Shira's difficult potty training period.

Taking the kids to "March Of The Penguins" and having to endure the hostile reaction from my bored children. (I loved the movie BTW).

The hell that was OFSTED.

That toothache.




The Ugly

Watching a friend of mine being victimised and finding myself standing up for him, despite some strong opposition from people who think they're more important than they actually are.

The teenage bastards who went joyriding one night and in the process, smashed the front right hand panel of my "new" car.

Being ripped off by my bank for getting overdrawn (over my limit) by 26p. I did get some money back but I shouldn't have been penalised in the first place.

The "Holocaust conference" in Iran and Israel's bloody nose in Lebanon as well as the continuing rise in antisemitism in the UK.

Almost everything Ken Livingstone and George Galloway have said over the last twelve months.

The theft of my memory stick and sunglasses at school.



I could think of others but I reckon these events pretty much sum up the rhythm of my year. It is gratifying to see that the good things outweigh both the bad and ugly events and that's how it should be.

So, dear friends and family, here's to 2007 and let's hope my 40th year (I am coming to terms with it, but very, very slowly) is way better than my 39th and that by this time next December, I'll have more good things to write about, fewer bad things and absolutely zero 'ugly' events to relate.

Happy New Year!

Saturday, 30 December 2006

The Correct Course Of Action

I'm in a meditative mood.

I'm thinking about the things in life that I believe in one hundred percent. One of these is my rock-solid belief in the existence of G-d and His constant presence in the world. Another is the willing acceptance of the tenets of Judaism, through which I choose to live my life.

Aside from that, there's not much else I can say that I truly believe in to the same extent (and I'm not talking about relationships with family etc). With all this in mind, I will add one more belief - the execution of Saddam Hussein was something that had to happen.

Why do I add this ugly event to such an exclusive list?

Let's start from the premise (as I do) that Saddam Hussein was one of the few people on earth who could be termed as being genuinly evil. He is directly responsible for the deaths of thousands of people, not through neglect or misadventure, but in the full knowledge that, what he was doing was, in his twisted mind, the absolutely correct course of action. Men, women and children were massacred in the most sadistic manner and Saddam didn't bat an eyelid.

That my friends is evil.

How does one judge someone who has acted in such a manner?

1) Do you allow him the right to live - a gift that he took from so many people?

2) Do you lock him away and leave him to rot out the rest of his life in jail - but still give him the right to live?

3) Or do you shame him in front of the world, demonstrate that his actions are beyond anything that is humanely acceptable and that, as a result of his behaviour, he must face the ultimate punishment?

Without any hesitation whatsoever, I go for number three.

This is why I believe that Saddam just had to be executed. Any other decision on the part of the Iraqi Government or Western World for that matter, would have sent the message to other members of his "club" of despots that they can do whatever they like - to whomever they like - and as a result, they will never have to face the prospect of being deprived of the thing that matters to them most, namely their life.

Saddam's execution will hopefully send chills down the backs of any other bloodthirsty dictator who thinks that he cannot and will not be held accountable for his actions.

When I hear the idiots at Amnesty International or other such bodies deploring the execution of Saddam, I realise that the inmates have finally taken over the asylum. Where were their "authoritative" voices when he gassed the Kurds or rained 39 scuds down on the innocent citizens of Israel? What did they have to say about the fact that he also paid $15,000 to the family of each suicide bomber who carried out an attack in Israel (no wonder the Palestinians mourn his demise)?


There will be repercussions but, at the end of the day, there was no other option. Evil must be eradicated for good to prevail.

Saddam's execution was an example of such eradication and that is why I believe so strongly in it's taking place.

Thursday, 28 December 2006

Movie Review: Happy Feet



My dad and I took three of the girls, minus Dassi to see this movie.

The parts that I did see (when I wasn't ferrying either Michal or Shira to the toilet) were pretty impressive. The singing and dancing scenes were sensational and the bit where they fall off the top of an ice shelf and free-fall into the void below, was truly eye-popping. In the world of CGI animation, a new standard has been set because this film was visually breathtaking.

However, proceedings were seriously let down by a derivative story-line and rather awkward "message" (for a kids movie) about human interference in the penguins' Eco-system. I think my kids were too young to really appreciate the flick and they didn't get that much out of it. Parents of young children beware!

I recommend the movie, if only for the animation, soundtrack and astounding choreography.

Shame about the 'plot' though.

Teacher's Rating

***

So Guys, Can You Relate?



I can relate to this.

Can you?

Wednesday, 27 December 2006

Movie Review: Flags Of Our Fathers



I booked tickets on the phone for a friend and myself.

I needn't have bothered as we were the only ones in the cinema. I don't think I've ever been privy to a private viewing before, but it was certainly an experience. What's more, if you're going to have a screen to yourself, it might as well be for a movie that reeks of quality and Flags of Our Fathers is such a film.

Watching this movie, one couldn't ignore the input of Steven Spielberg, who was joint producer. At times, this seemed like a parallel version of Saving Private Ryan, from the similarly staged beach scenes (minus the startling sound effects that made the former movie so memorable) to the deployment of washed out colours.

The cast is uniformly superb, in particular Ryan Philippe, whom I hadn't rated too highly previously. He went beyond the 'pretty boy' image and delivered an achingly believable performance as John Bradley, through whose eyes we witness the soaring highs and plunging depths of the Battle for Iwo Jima.

Clint Eastwood, who is proving himself to be one of the greatest directors, takes us into the heart of what heroism is (and isn't) about and this is never more apparent than the way in which he portrays the story of the truly tragic Ira Hayes.

Flags Of Our Fathers tells an important story and one which is as relevant today as it was back in 1945. My only gripe is that it's strongest asset (i.e. the involvement of Spielberg) is also its greatest debit, in that it lacks the impact of Spielberg's epic and as a result, the battle scenes seem as though they were shot at the same time as Mr S's movie.

Had the former not been made, this film would have delivered the knockout blow that it should - granted that we are talking about a true story (although Saving Private Ryan did accurately portray the invasion of Normandy).

Highly recommended (especially if you can get yourself a private screening)

Teacher's Rating

****½

Tuesday, 26 December 2006

Iraq - An Interesting Viewpoint

Remember about that party I told you about two posts ago?

Well, before the mother of all headaches burst its way into my cerebellum, I was having a really interesting conversation with an expatriate Iraqi Jew, who has been in the UK for seven years.

He is convinced that the real reason why the Americans and British are staying in Iraq, is to use the country as a launch pad for an attack on the Iranian nuclear facilities. I was thinking about this and came to the conclusion that he might have a point. It would certainly make a lot of sense, granted that both countries (and most of the rest of the world, including quite a few Sunni Arab dictatorships) have no interest whatsoever in seeing Shiite Iran go nuclear.

In fact, the recent declaration by Egypt et al that they want to acquire such weapons (presumably to counter the Iranian threat) seems all the more understandable, granted the danger that a nuclear Iran would pose to the region - and for that matter, the rest of the world.

I thought that I should add this little soupcon of information, so that well-meaning but naïve British citizens (or other nationals) who stumble accross this posting realise that the presence of our two countries in Iraq is not necessarily a bad thing.

After all, this might avert the outbreak of the next world war.

Monday, 25 December 2006

Very Funny

Please click here.

Ho Ho Ho!

I came back this afternoon from a friend's baby celebration with a thumping headache. I don't know where it came from but after taking some paracetamol and sleeping it off, it returned to it's hiding place.

This is all very well and good, but it's now 00:30 and I'm wide awake and raring to go.

Oh well, I guess I'll just have to spend the rest of night peering through the garden window looking for Santa.

And a Merry Xmas to all of you who celebrate!

Saturday, 23 December 2006

A Shira Classic

This afternoon, I asked Shira (aged three) where her bottom was and she replied:

"Here it is, behind me!"

Friday, 22 December 2006

The First Sleepover

It has been a very special night for Michal as she attended her very first sleepover (aside from staying at grandparents, which doesn’t really count). I can’t wait to see her enthusiastic response when I pick her up!

It’s definitely moments like these that I thank G-d I’ve been given the gift of children.

Thursday, 21 December 2006

Holidaze

School's finished for 2006 - yay.

It was so much fun standing around the kitchen this morning at 7.30 in my dressing gown, knowing that I didn't have to rush out into the dark, foggy morning (second day of fog - what's going on here?) within the next fifteen minutes.

I'm looking forward to two weeks of school-free tension. Instead I'll have to keep the kids from killing one another, keep the wife sweet, make sure the parents are happy.

Then again, I've been told that going out into the brisk (foggy) morning air is also quite therapeutic...

I Feel Much Better Now

Ahmadinejad said yesterday:

"Today, it is the United States, Britain and the Zionist regime which are doomed to disappear as they have moved far away from the teachings of God."

I can't tell you how much better that makes me feel. If his understanding of the 'teachings of G-d' are that you should build nuclear weapons, actively support terrorism and deny the Holocaust, I'm more than happy to subscribe to any religion aside from his.

However, at least we Zionists are now in good company. People of the US and UK - welcome to our club!

Tuesday, 19 December 2006

Carter - The Old Buffoon

I have never rated Jimmy Carter very highly. The truth is that Israel and Egypt were itching to make peace in 1978 and this would have happened irrespective of whom was sitting in The White House. The fact that it happened to be Jimmy Carter is coicidental. Remember that he came into Office after "battling" against Gerald Ford, a lame duck president if there ever was one. Hell, I could have even beaten Ford!

Were it not for Watergate, Carter would still be growing his peanuts.

I don't like the man, never have. His one term of office is not particularly memorable and the debacle of the kidnapping of Americans in Iran, justifiably brought his pathetic political career to a grinding halt.

Recently however, he has outdone himself in showing what a sad old fool he is by bringing out a book with the 'enchanting' title: Palestine, Peace Not Apartheid.

In this useless tome, he blasts Israel (excuse the pun) for her "shameful" treatment of the Palestinians. I mean, how dare the Israelis build a barrier to stop suicide bombers coming in and destroying entire families. How could they?! That the bombing stopped virtually overnight as the barrier went up seems rather unimportant to this grand old shmuck of politics.

Peace in the Middle East, according to Jim-boy, will never happen as long as those dastardly Israelis hold onto Palestinian land. Then again, Israel leaving Gaza achieved a lot of good didn't it? Instead of the good ole occupation, we now have Kassam rockets slamming into our cities and the Palestinians going around bumping one another off before you can say "Jimmy Carter is a loser".

Much better then, eh Jim?

The sad truth is that Carter is an irrelevance. He serves no purpose whatsoever aside from trying to feebly push his own little agenda. Like an actor who has taken on one too many roles, he just shows himself up at ever opportunity as being the old buffoon that he's become.

Go to bed Jimmy, the world doesn't need you anymore.

And to be really honest, it never did.

Monday, 18 December 2006

Fatah vs Hamas

So the Palestinians are going around killing each other instead of the Jews.

Am I bothered?

Not one tiny bit. In fact, I give them my blessings to continue for as long they like.

Sunday, 17 December 2006

Review: Status Quo

My good friend, Larrythelamb very kindly gave me a ticket to the Quo Concert at Wembley Arena last night, as his daughter had not been able to attend. I have to say that I'm not much of a fan, but hey, what the hell!

So we went, his son, brother and a friend and I. The evening didn't start that well, granted that the support bands were pretty horrendous. The first proudly exclaimed that they were Australian and I spent the next half hour waiting for them to get the first plane back home. In fact, they were so bad that I left the auditorium twenty five minutes in.

Quo came on at 9 pm and apparently performed a "stunning" set. Not knowing their songs didn't really help and all I could hear was one excrutiatingly loud song after another. Saying that, people were having a great time, so I know that I was pretty much alone in my negativity.

I took it for about an hour until I feel the need to walk out, head throbbing and feeling myself becoming partially deaf. One of the stewards, a very nice girl offered me a set of earplugs and this helped immeasurably in my enjoyment of the next hour. Additionally, eighty minutes in, they actually played some that I knew, such as Whatever You Want and Rockin' All Over The World. On hearing these, my attitude changed and I had a fantastic time bopping along - for approximately six whole minutes.

Sadly, these two songs signalled the end of the concert! They came back, played another excrutiatingly long and melodiless mess of a song but redeemed themselves somewhat with a great version of Burning Bridges, followed by Rock And Roll Music (a Beatles' standard) which endeared them to me a little more. Saying that, as performers, they were extremely likeable.

And then it was over. Everyone left happy and I spent the rest of the evening trying to hear properly again.

Larry, I really appreciate your generous offer and I did have a good time, but next year, I don't think I'll be joining you. The most fun I had was watching everyone else (including Quo) having a rocking good time. Glad I went along though.

Thursday, 14 December 2006

The Miracle of Chanukah

The wonderful Jewish festival of Chanukah will be starting tomorrow night. More than two thousand three hundred years ago, another meglomaniac called Antiochus tried to wipe us out. The Hasmonean boys told him where to go and despite all odds, we rescued Jerusalem from his clutches. The temple was ours and Chanukah was born.

Antiochus also wanted to "wipe us off the face of the earth" through trying to force us to take on his alien (Greek/Syrian) practices. Surprise surprise, he failed. Some things never change and if Ahmedinejad thinks he can succeed where so many others have failed, maybe he should stop organising moronic conferences and start researching the fate of his predecessors.

Hitler didn't manage to finish us off, concentration camps and all. My Chanukah message to him and anyone else who thinks he can "wipe Israel off the face of the earth" is this - go read your history books.

Happy Chanukah dear friends - as the old song goes, we will survive.


We'll screw you over Ahmadinejad, you Iranian dipshit. We survived the Babylonian, Roman and Nazi leaders and you...


- you're just a little pisher compared to any of them.

The Role Of Holocaust Denial In The Ideology And Strategy Of The Iranian Regime

By Yigal Carmon, President of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).

Today, December 14, 2006, a symposium titled "Holocaust Denial: Paving the Way to Genocide" was held at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. MEMRI President and Founder Yigal Carmon spoke at the symposium.

To view Iranian Holocaust denial clips,
please click here.

The following are his remarks:

The persistent Holocaust denial of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad raises a vital question that needs to be addressed: What function does this denial serve in the ideology of the Iranian regime and in its strategy? The answer to this question bears cardinal importance to the future of the State of Israel.

When we, at The Middle East Media Research Institute, collect and analyze the statements made by Ahmadinejad and others in the Iranian regime, we can distinguish two major goals, both of which lead to the same conclusion: the Iranian regime's Holocaust denial is not a manifestation of irrational hatred, but a premeditated and cold-blooded instrument to achieve its goals.

Denial of Israel's Legitimacy

The first of these goals is the attempt to deny any legitimacy to the creation and continued existence of the State of Israel as a safe haven for the Jews after the Holocaust. In order to achieve this goal, he proclaims that no Holocaust occurred, and that if Jews were indeed harmed in World War II - a claim that requires thorough and "objective" research - this was no different than the experience of others in World War II. At any rate, Ahmadinejad and other top Iranian officials claim that this "myth" cannot justify the establishment of Israel in Palestine.

Elimination of the Zionist Entity, i.e. Israel

The second goal is - as often proclaimed by Ahmadinejad - to "wipe Israel off the map." His Holocaust denial is therefore planned, intentional, and premeditated. He is aware that as long as the world remembers the Holocaust, it will resist any new attempt to perpetrate another genocide against the Jews. Thus, eradicating the memory of the Holocaust is essential in order to achieve his goal.

Demonization

In order for Ahmadinejad to bring his plans to fruition, however, he has to demonize the Jews and the State of Israel. Demonization is a necessary precondition for genocide. As we well know, Hitler first engaged in a major campaign of demonization of the Jews before actually murdering them en masse. Ahmadinejad and the Iranian regime are taking the same path, and are conducting a similar virulent, antisemitic campaign of demonization.

To this end, Iranian state-controlled television produces various TV series dedicated to the demonization of Jews. These include classic blood libels, depicting Jews as using the blood of non-Jewish children to bake their Passover matzos, and as kidnapping non-Jewish children to steal their body parts. Jews are reduced to sub-human levels, depicted as pigs and apes. They are accused of persecuting the Prophet Muhammad in voodoo ritualistic scenes, and as tormenting a historic figure reminiscent of Jesus on the Cross. All these TV series exist alongside others that deny the Holocaust.

Again, it should be stressed that all these phenomena are interrelated, and are state-directed at the highest level. It is most indicative that Ahmadinejad's first public appearance after coming to power was made before television producers.

All this is done in order to achieve the goal of demonization of Jews and Israel, which, as I mentioned earlier, is vital for their elimination. However, it is not possible to demonize a people as long as it is viewed as a victim of the Holocaust. Therefore, as long as the Jews are perceived as victims of the Holocaust, this demonization cannot take root. Holocaust denial is thus vital, in order to wipe out the image of the Jews as victims.

This is the reason why these three elements - Holocaust denial, the elimination of the State of Israel, and demonization of the Jews - are constantly present in statements by Ahmadinejad and other senior Iranian officials.

Let us hear the Iranians in their own words. True, many of these statements have already circulated separately in the media. But hearing them together, in the context I have just outlined, will enable us to understand their function and significance within the ideology and strategy of the Iranian regime.

In his well-known speech at the Iranian "World Without Zionism" conference on October 23, 2005, Ahmadinejad laid out his views on the State of Israel. It is an absolute evil, a tool in the hands of the West to dominate the Muslims. In reply to those who ask if it is indeed possible to bring about a world without America and Zionism, he says: "You had best know that this slogan and this goal are attainable, and can surely be achieved."

Later, he cites Khomeini: "The Imam said: 'This regime that is occupying Qods [Jerusalem] must be eliminated from the pages of history.'" Commenting on this statement by his spiritual mentor, Ahmadinejad says: "This sentence is very wise. The issue of Palestine is not an issue on which we can compromise." Later he adds, "Very soon this stain of disgrace [i.e. Israel] will be purged from the center of the Islamic world - and this is attainable." This speech clearly announced the ultimate goal: the elimination of Israel.

At the Organization of the Islamic Conference meeting, which took place in Mecca in early December 2005, Ahmadinejad made statements that explicitly tied this goal with Holocaust denial: "Some European countries are insisting on saying that Hitler burned millions of oppressed Jews in crematoria. They insist so much on this issue that if someone proves the opposite, they convict him and throw him into prison. Although we do not accept this claim, let's assume that it is true, and we ask the Europeans: Does the killing of oppressed Jews by Hitler [justify] their support for the regime that is occupying Jerusalem?..."

This statement by Ahmadinejad is telling. The implication is that the Holocaust is the only justification for the existence of Israel. The line, therefore, is twofold: a) the Holocaust is a myth, and b) even if it is true, it cannot justify Israel's existence. In either case, Ahmadinejad's primary obsession is not with the Holocaust, but with Israel's very existence. If the Holocaust gets in the way of achieving this goal, it must be denied.

Later on in the same speech, he adds: "If you [Europeans] think that you committed an injustice against the Jews, why must the Muslims and the Palestinians pay the price for it? All right, you oppressed [the Jews]. So put some of Europe at the disposal of this Zionist regime..." Again, the guiding principle is that Israel cannot exist. Holocaust denial is important to Ahmadinejad because the Holocaust lends moral justification to the creation and continued existence of the State of Israel.

In the speech you saw earlier on the DVD, from December 14, 2005, Ahmadinejad once again linked these two elements together. He calls the Holocaust a "myth," but also adds: "If you [Europeans] are correct in saying that you killed six million Jews in World War II... If you committed a crime, it is only appropriate that you place a piece of your land at their disposal - in Europe, America, Canada, or Alaska..." Once again, Holocaust denial is important to Ahmadinejad first and foremost as a means of de-legitimizing Israel's existence, and since the goal is the elimination of Israel, the speech includes the necessary element of demonization as well.

Then the Iranian president takes pains to portray the Jews as the true oppressors, and not as victims. "Zionism itself is a Western ideology and a colonialist idea, with secular ideas and fascist methods, which was founded by the English. So far, with the help and direct guidance of America and part of Europe, [Zionism] is slaughtering the Muslims." Later on in the speech, he says: "An important question that the Western countries and media must answer clearly is: What crime did they [i.e. the West] commit at that time [i.e. WWII] that the Zionists are not committing today? In essence, Zionism is a new Fascism..."

This, therefore, is Ahmadinejad's truth: the Zionists are the true oppressors and murderers. But while at times Ahmadinejad claims to differentiate between Zionists and Jews in general, in truth, this campaign of demonization uses and abuses history to depict Jews throughout the ages - not Zionists alone - as oppressors and murderers.

As you have just seen in the DVD, the true Holocaust, as portrayed by Ahmadinejad, was committed by the Jews: for example, by the Jewish king of Yemen, Yosef Dhu Nuwas, who, he claims, burned the Christians in the early days of Christianity, and by the Iranian Jews, as described in the Book of Esther. Moreover, Jews in modern times are continuing their murderous ways: killing large numbers of Christian children in London and Paris - again, as you saw with your own eyes - in order to procure blood for Passover matzos.

To sum up, Holocaust denial is an inextricable part of demonization, on the way to the final goal: the elimination of Israel.

All these elements figure prominently in the identity and works of those invited by the Iranian regime to the Holocaust denial conference in Tehran. First and foremost is their explicit opposition to Israel's existence. This is why members of the anti-Zionist Jewish sect of Neturei Karta were invited, following the ongoing, strong ties maintained by the Iranian regime with them. Then comes the demonization of Jews in order to justify the agenda of elimination. Thus the invitation of Holocaust deniers, such as Frederick Toben, who not only denies the Holocaust, but also claims that the Jews intentionally spread the AIDS virus in the U.S.

In essence, the speech made by Ahmadinejad at the Holocaust denial conference best illustrates the role of Holocaust denial in the ideology and strategy of the Iranian regime. He begins his speech by addressing the Holocaust deniers participating in the conference: "Iran is your home, and here you can express your opinions freely, in a friendly manner and in a free atmosphere." Then, without batting an eyelid, he adds: "The life-curve of the Zionist regime has begun its descent, and it is now on a downward slope towards its fall... I tell you now... the Zionist regime will be wiped out, and humanity will be liberated."

Wednesday, 13 December 2006

Letter To The Iranian Embassies

I have sent this email to the numerous Iranian Embassies dotted around the world.

"Dear Sir,

My grandmother lost virtually every single member of her family in the Holocaust. I am therefore appalled to read that Iran, a country with a notable history of tolerance and acceptance of all nations should be hosting a "conference" which gives a platform to some of the most anti-semitic and racist human beings on the planet.

I wish that the Holocaust had not taken place. I wish that over six million people had not simply vanished between the years of 1939 and 1945. I wish that one and half million children had been given the chance to grow up and contribute to the world, instead of being murdered - simply because they born Jewish.

You are an Ambassador for your country. You have a duty to present your country in the best possible light. I therefore ask you to do everything in your power to educate yourself and your countrymen in what really happened during World War II. Go to Auschwitz, visit the Yad Vashem website, talk with survivors and then make your mind up whether the Holocaust is being "exaggerated".

You owe it to yourselves and your country to learn the real truth about the Holocaust. It did happen and it could happen again if conferences like the one that has taken place in Teheran are given any sort of legitimacy.

Thank you for your time."

Let's see if any of them bother to reply.

Clever Anagram

An anagram of "eleven plus two"

is "twelve plus one"!

Kick Them Out II

You won't be surprised to read that I'm not the only who feels disgusted by the behaviour of these so called "Jews".

Have a look at this piece from the Totally Jewish website:

One of the most senior members of religious anti-zionist sect Neturei Karta was this week facing total isolation from the Jewish community after attending Iran's Holocaust conference.

Manchester-based Rabbi Ahron Cohen has long courted controversy as the mouthpiece of the British arm of Neturei Karta, appearing alongside controversial figures considered to be enemies of the Jewish people.

But anger in Manchester reached fever pitch this week after it emerged he had visited the internationally-condemned meeting in Tehran.

Indeed, feelings were running so high that the Manchester Beth Din issued a statement on Tuesday condemning Rabbi Cohen’s involvement and questioning his status as a rabbi.

The statement said: "'Rabbi' Ahron Cohen has for a long time been ostracised by the vast majority of Jews for associating with and thus giving support and legitimacy to the enemies of Israel and the Jewish nation. He represents an insignificant minority and even amongst zealots is considered to have crossed the threshold which divides rational viewpoint from fanaticism.

“By attending a conference called to promote the denial of the Holocaust at which many of the most virulent deniers are present, he is guilty by association whatever gloss he may wish to put on participation. His involvement is a stab in the heart of the Jewish Community and of all decent law-abiding people and coming from one who styles himself ‘rabbi’, it brings disgrace on our Community and desecrates all that Judaism stands for.”

Rabbi Cohen recently clashed with Zionist leaders at a Palestine Solidarity Meeting in the Quaker Friends Meeting House in Manchester, when they challenged him for giving his support at such an anti-Israel event.

Addressing those criticising him, who included Lucille Cohen, President of Manchester Zionist Central Council and Vice President Herzl Hamburger, he repeatedly shouted: "You are not Jewish, Zionists are not Jewish"

Following a recent attack on his Salford home when it was pelted with an estimated 1,000 eggs, Rabbi Cohen sought police protection.

Meanwhile, local Holocaust survivors expressed disgust at his behaviour.

"It is one thing to be anti Israel and support the Palestinians but it is quite another to deny the Holocaust," said Gisela Feldman, who escaped from Germany on the St. Louis. “We need to make our feelings known and let this so-called rabbi know what we think of him."

Among those condemning the conference was London Liberal Democrat MEP Baroness Sarah Ludford.

Baroness Ludford, European justice spokeswoman for the Liberal Democrats, said: “I am appalled by the convening of this conference, the main goal of which appears to be providing a platform for anti-Semitic propaganda.”

“When the list of invitees includes former leader of the Ku Klux Klan David Duke and well-known international Holocaust deniers such as Georges Thiel, the claim that this conference is about ‘objectively examining historical fact’ rings utterly hollow.”

"On one level Holocaust denial is farcical and absurd since the genocide perpetrated by the Nazis against 6 million Jews is so well-documented that no sane person could deny it. But on another level, it is very dangerous when a member state of the United Nations wraps anti-Semitism in a spurious cloak of anti-Zionism in order to stir up mischief and hate."

Tuesday, 12 December 2006

Kick Them Out

The presence of "orthodox" Jews at the Tehran Holocaust Conference makes me sick to the stomach. These men are a disgrace to everything that our nation stands for and believes in and most importantly, by allying themselves with a bunch of neo-Nazis and Islamic extremists, they totally violate the memory of every single Jewish person who died in the Nazi genocide.

If I ever have the misfortune to meet these ghastly pieces of shit, I will spit in their vile faces and do everything in my power to ensure that they were excluded from every single Jewish gathering that they wished to attend, including counting them in as members of a Minyan (a quorum of ten males over 13 required to make up a prayer congregation). They should be immediately ex-communicated and buried in a separate plot - if at all. For all I care, their bodies can rot in the street.

They are not worthy of calling themselves members of the Jewish people. Let's kick them out!

Monday, 11 December 2006

New Website Polls

Just to inform you that I've replaced the polls on this site with a new bunch, so please feel free to start voting afresh. The questions are randomised with the hope that you will come across a new one each time you visit (don't all rush at once as I could only think of six topics!!!)

I am however particularly interested in reading your responses to the teacher-parent query.

The Gold Sashed Toothless Wonder

Tali managed to come home proudly wearing the "gold sash for best behaviour and achievement" in her year group. How she managed to get this is an mystery to both Dana and myself as she hasn't exactly been deserving of such an honour at home. If anything, we should be getting this prestigious award for demonstrating remarkable patience in the face of reckless and determined adversity from our soon to be eight-year-old.

Like everything in life however, when you gain you also lose. On this occasion, she swallowed one of her front incisors - hence the photograph below (and also check out the aforementioned sash).

Meanwhile, Back In Downtown Tehran...

Anti-Semites head for Iran to query Holocaust
By Colin Freeman, Chief Foreign Correspondent, Sunday Telegraph


President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran is to give a personal audience to a delegation of foreign academics – including Britons – attending a Teheran conference that will question whether the Holocaust took place.

President Ahmadinejad will welcome delegates.

The two-day "Review of the Holocaust: global vision" conference, which begins tomorrow, is expected to include more than 60 foreign researchers from 30 countries, including known anti-Semites and Holocaust deniers. Ahmadinejad has caused international outrage by describing the Holocaust as a "myth" and calling for Israel to be "wiped off the map".

Despite condemnation of Teheran for hosting the conference, foreign delegates arriving in the capital have said that they are hopeful of a personal meeting with the Iranian president.

Fredrick Toben, a German-born Holocaust denier who lives in Australia and who has been convicted in Germany of inciting racial hatred, told The Sunday Telegraph: "I would be disappointed if I was not to meet him, although I can't tell you any more than that. It's like meeting the Queen in England – I wouldn't comment beforehand."

Neither the Foreign Office nor the Iranian embassy in London was able to provide details of Britons invited to the event, but Toben, who is staying with other delegates in a government guesthouse in Teheran, said they were to be joined by Michele Renouf, an eccentric socialite and friend of David Irving, the Right-wing historian who was sentenced to three years' jail in Austria last February after disputing the existence of gas chambers at Auschwitz.

Originally from Australia, Lady Renouf was thrown out of London's Reform Club in 2003 after trying to get Mr Irving invited to speak there. In an interview in 2003 she described Judaism as a "creed of domination and racial superiority". Last month she was banned from addressing the far-Right British National Party, because it believed that her views were extreme.

Toben said: "I understand she is on a flight already. It will be her first visit to Teheran."

Iran's deputy foreign minister, Manouchehr Mohammadi, said last week that the conference was being staged because of the lack of answers to questions posed by Ahmadinejad.

Literature for the conference, hosted by Iran's Institute for Political and International Studies, describes the Holocaust as "one of the most important propaganda tools to politically justify the support for the Jewish people in the 20th century".

Although the organisers insist they will pay "full respect to the Jewish religion" and intend it to be a non-political examination of facts, critics say it will be little more than a talking shop for anti-Semitism.

A spokesman for the American State Department, Sean McCormack, said: "It is just flabbergasting that the leadership of that regime continues to deny that six million-plus people were killed in the Holocaust."

Another article can be found here

(c) The Telegraph.co.uk

Sunday, 10 December 2006

3's

A long running bone of contention between the wife and I, revolves around our differing tastes in music. Whereas she likes keeping up with the latest bands, hits and such like, I'm very happy to stick with what I know and more importantly, like.

You can put forward reasoned arguments for both camps. However, since this is my blog (!), I will simply state that, if I ever heard music in the charts that matched the musicianship and quality of the people that I like to listen to, I would readily give the new bands/singers a chance. However, when I'm humming songs by people like Lennon and McCartney, Paul Simon or Bob Dylan, these unfortunate newbies have a pretty high bar to reach.

Their case has not been helped by the superlative recent offerings emanating from some of the aforementioned gentlemen. I say this, because I am currently listening to the latest Dylan production, Modern Times and without exaggerating, it's an absolute stunner. Paul Simon's recent album Surprise was another belter and McCartney's Chaos And Creation In The Backyard showed him to be no slouch in the songwriting stakes either.

It's great to see that these so called "oldies" are still producing work of immense substance, particularly through albums released within the last eighteen months or so.

I mustn't be too harsh on the wife. She is a big fan of Queen, so there's still hope that she might come around and, what's extremely encouraging, is that she's commented most positivily on a number of (the oldies') songs she's accidentally heard when listening to the radio, driving my car or even (gasp) watching MTV!

My "friends" are still demonstrating their membership of a dwindling club. I just wonder how many of today's artists will be eligble to apply when the entire club is reformed, in Dylan's words, beyond the horizon...

Joke

A woman goes to the post office to buy stamps for her Chanukah cards. She says to the clerk, "May I have 50 Chanukah stamps?"

The clerk says, "What denomination?"

"Oh my G_d," the woman says, "has it come to this? Give
me 16 Orthodox, 22 Conservative, and 12 Reform."

Friday, 8 December 2006

Ask Toto


"I don't think we're in Kensal Green anymore, Toto".

There are certain things in life that just don't happen:

Children will never come into a classroom in my school and sit down quietly.

Vegetarians won't suddenly be swayed by a McDonalds ad to bite into that oozing cheeseburger.

No-one will ever be interested in talking to the nerd who walks into the party and announces that he's just got a cracked copy of Office 2007.

And Tornadoes don't suddenly appear in suburban North West London streets.

Well, you wouldn't thought it would you - until it happened yesterday morning.

I mean, what the hell. Where did that come from? I've heard of freak weather conditions but tornadoes in Kensal Green? Why Kensal Green? Why not the vast open spaces of Hampstead Heath? Or the flat land that consists of Norfolk?

But Kensal Green???

Now, please don't get me wrong. I don't have anything against Kensal Green. It is a perfectly habitable neighbourhood. It's just that....it doesn't seem right for a tornado to target this particular pocket of London.

Maybe Dorothy was right.
Toto does have all the answers.

Thursday, 7 December 2006

The Past Is Never Far Away


Please click on the cartoon to view it properly.



Anti-Male Jokes

On a wall in a ladies room . .. "My husband follows me everywhere"
Written just below it . " I do not"


Q. Why are married women heavier than single women?
A. Single women come home, see what's in the fridge and go to bed. Married women come home, see what's in bed and go to the fridge.

Sunday, 3 December 2006

Father And Son

I've spent the most wonderful afternoon in the company of my father. He wanted to take me out for my birthday and so we went to an American Diner for lunch and spent the rest of the afternoon not doing very much but chatting and basically chilling out.

It's a shame we don't do this more because it was so lovely to spend the time just with him. It is afternoons like these that make our lives on earth worth all the hassle we have to put up with.

For a few hours, there was nobody else to come between us - my father and I.

Pasta Passion....and Pistols



We've just come back from playing this murder mystery game. There were four couples and each of us took on the role of a character. I was Bo Jalais, the grape-grower and dressed up for the part (including the essential black beret).

However, Dana, as Tara Misu absolutely stole the show with her ravishing outfit and frighteningly authentic Italian accent. I won't spoil events by revealing the identity of the murderer, but this really was an evening to remember.

The Italian cuisine (Dana's spaghetti and meaballs) was also the perfect addition to a wonderful soiree and immense fun was had by all. The fact that this also doubled up as my birthday party made it all that more special.

Mamma Mia!

Thursday, 30 November 2006

Hamas And Hezbollah - Strategic Challenges

This is a short video describing the challenges faced by Israel from these terrorist organisations. Well worth watching.

To view, please click here.

We Remember You, George

Yesterday was the fifth anniversary of George Harrison's passing. The world without him is a much sadder place.

We miss you.

Peace.

'Strawberry Fields Forever': The making of a masterpiece

Forty years ago this month, The Beatles recorded their most complex track. Robert Webb reveals how 'Strawberry Fields Forever' took shape in the studio 29 November 2006

It was 40 years ago, in November 1966, that the four Beatles, chilled after a recuperative break, rolled up at EMI's Abbey Road studios to begin recording their eighth album. They'd had enough of touring, churning out the hits to shrieking fans who couldn't tell which song they were playing, let alone whether it was in tune. Spurred on by their experiments in sound on Revolver, notably "Tomorrow Never Knows", the new album would comprise songs that could be performed only in the studio. They had a flexible timetable and no ceiling on the budget. They couldn't wait to turn us on.

The project would morph into Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, Paul McCartney's grandiose plan to send out a fictitious touring band in their place - on vinyl, instead of on the road. It ended up just a collection of tracks, as John Lennon put it. It was, of course, a masterpiece: the mindblower against which all envelope-pushing rock albums would be critically evaluated for years to come.

The session kicked off, as did virtually all Beatle sessions, with a Lennon song. During his break, the bespectacled Beatle had bunked off to Almeria in southern Spain where he wrote "Strawberry Fields Forever". Back at his Weybridge home, he demoed a version with an acoustic guitar (this early take was made public with the release of the Anthology 2 CD in 1996). The song was titled after a Salvation Army children's home, Strawberry Field (he added the "s"), in the Liverpool suburb of Woolton. The Victorian edifice was a landmark from his boyhood and he had fond memories of attending the annual fête there with his Aunt Mimi. Filtered through his drug-addled imagination, however, the song had little to do with orphanages, fêtes or the Sally Army.

In Abbey Road's Studio Two, Lennon strummed the somnolent, opening bars: "No one I think is in my tree..." Up in the control room, Geoff Emerick was bowled over. Emerick, then only 19 years old, was the Beatles' sound engineer. His inventive and nimble fingers had spliced tape and nudged faders alongside the steady hand of the producer George Martin on Revolver and would do so on most of the Beatles' subsequent recordings.

"It was just a great, great song, that was apparent from the first time John sang it for all of us, playing an acoustic guitar," Emerick says. "Everyone was fired up and full of creative ideas after the break. Most exciting was the idea that, freed from the rigours of touring, they no longer had to worry about having to play the new material live, so we literally could take the song in any direction."

McCartney loved it. "His main contribution, as I remember, was coming up with the signature Mellotron flute intro," says Emerick. "From that very first moment, you know something special is about to follow." George Harrison was keen to employ his new toy, a slide guitar. Ringo busied himself draping towels over his kit to achieve the song's distinctive muffled drum sound. A few takes later, it was finished and the Beatles moved on to the next song for the album, McCartney's "When I'm Sixty-Four". There was just one hitch: "John had been listening to his acetate of 'Strawberry Fields'... and he decided he didn't like it," recalls Emerick. It needed to be "heavier".

On Thursday 8 December, they reconvened and took it from the top. That evening, Emerick and Martin were attending the premiere of a Cliff Richard film in the West End. When they finally made it to the studio, it was midnight, and the session was in full swing. The band were on a roll and stayed until the early hours: Martin scored some trumpets and cellos, while Emerick experimented with backwards tapes to meet Lennon's demands for the song. Over the coming days, the sessions became increasingly intense as the sounds of strings, horns and other, more exotic instruments (such as Harrison's Indian svarmandal) filled Studio Two. Eventually it was done. The final mix, stretched and pummelled out of all recognition from its acoustic beginning, was labelled "best".

The open-ended sessions soon took their toll on the recording team. "More time was spent on 'Strawberry Fields Forever' than any other Beatles song," says Emerick. "It was, I believe, the first time a Beatles song had been re-recorded in its entirety."

But even with the revised version in the can, Lennon still wasn't satisfied. "John could sometimes be difficult to please because he was quite impatient," says Emerick. He had been listening to the early acetate again, and now preferred the original opening bars. In his recent memoirs, Here, There & Everywhere, which provide an intimate, first-hand view of the Beatles' recording process, Emerick recalls how Lennon casually told his recording team that he wanted the two versions joined together: "My jaw dropped. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see George Martin blinking slowly. I could almost detect his blood pressure rising."

Martin patiently explained that it simply wasn't possible: they had been played in different keys, at different tempos and the arrangements were radically different. "John appeared nonplussed," writes Emerick. "I'm not sure he even understood why that presented a problem." Today, a computer can easily alter pitch and tempo. In 1966, all Emerick had at his disposal was a pair of editing scissors, two tape machines, and a varispeed control to modify the pace of the recording. Martin glanced at Emerick. They elected to give it a go.

As December drew to a close, the final master of the song was made. They worked late into the evening, as Emerick, Lennon and McCartney skilfully edited the tapes together. Such close collaboration, says Emerick, was unusual. "In general, Paul and John didn't watch over my shoulder; they trusted George Martin and me to translate their ideas into reality. For the most part, they stayed in the studio working on the music and we stayed up in the control room working on the sounds." Emerick discovered that by speeding up the playback of the first take and slowing down that of the second, he could match them in both pitch and tempo. The join was made exactly one minute in. "George [Martin] and I decided to allow the second half to play all the way through at the slower speed," says Emerick. "Doing so gave John's voice a smoky, thick quality that complemented the psychedelic lyric and swirling instrumentation."

By the new year, EMI was demanding a single. With only three songs completed, the Beatles' manager, Brian Epstein, made his selection. Originally "Strawberry Fields Forever" was to be paired with "When I'm Sixty-Four", but fate - or Martin - intervened and it was diverted to seven-inch as a double A-side with "Penny Lane", in February 1967. Astonishingly, it was kept from the No 1 spot by Engelbert Humperdinck's cabaret evergreen, "Release Me".

When Sgt Pepper finally exploded into the Summer of Love four months later, "Strawberry Fields Forever" was not sequenced into its hallowed grooves - a decision Martin now says he regrets. If the song had taken its place as intended, instead of, say, the Lennon throwaway "Good Morning, Good Morning", would we love the album more or less?

It is now heard afresh on the new Beatles album, Love, in a spacey remix courtesy of Martin and his son Giles. Emerick is satisfied that they got it right first time around: "It wouldn't have been any better if it had been recorded on 24-track, rather than four-track." The sound engineer sticks by the mono mixes released in the Sixties. "Certainly the CD releases, made from masters done in the 1980s, sound very little like the original vinyl records - some of them, in my opinion, are almost unlistenable to."

'Love' is out now on EMI; 'Here, There & Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of the Beatles' by Geoff Emerick is published by Gotham Books

Tuesday, 28 November 2006

The Teacher Is A Junkie

Every now and again, the gums around my lower wisdom teeth start to get inflamed and the pain is positively horrendous. I really should get them removed, but not having the nerve (geddit?) to go through a whole operation, I cowardly reach for the Neurofen and wait for the pain to pass.

Two days in and the pain was driving me up the wall. It's bad enough having to cope with a toothache, but doing so whilst trying to teach is tantamount to climbing up the north face of Everest with a blindfold, in a blizzard.

Lunchtime arrived and I begged Dana to get in touch with a dentist and arrange an appointment ASAP. When she called back to say that she'd managed to get me a 3.45, I didn't think twice and ignored the fact that I'd have to go along the private route to enjoy this privilege.

I begged a senior colleague to cover the last 15 minutes of my final lesson and after he begrudgingly agreed, I managed to get out of school in time to arrive at the appointment. I can't remember the last time I went to the dentist, but I certainly don't recall ever being asked to put on some lab specs, to avoid the bright light "damaging my eyes".

If that wasn't weird enough, they took an X-Ray with this strange machine revolving around my head zapping me with radiation. I noted how both the Dentist and her assistant fled out of the room to press the switch and leave me to fry, all on my own.

The dentist suggested that I should have the operation to get them removed, but I was not signing on. More importantly, she "irrigated" my gum in the most sensitive places and gave me a prescription for penicillin.

So for now, I'm started the five day treatment, promised not to imbibe any alcohol until well in 2007 and have started getting on first name terms with a packet of Paramol that is never more than a foot away from my feverish hands.

Fantastic.

What began as an annoying toothache has now led me down the slippery slope of popping Neurofens and antibiotics as though they were going out of fashion. I also don't give a damn either, as long as I can forget how painful one sodding gum can be.

Monday, 27 November 2006

nb:

Just as a point of note, in case you hadn't noticed, I tag nearly all of my posts into subject areas, so that you can follow the continual flow of topics related to (e.g.) school or even movies I've seen recently. If you click on the yellow tag entitled "labels", you will be able to read all the posts relating to that particular topic.

Saying that, I wasn't sure what to tag a post about tagging...

Sunday, 26 November 2006

Movie Review - Casino Royale




I think the highest praise I can give this movie is that it is the first Bond flick I've seen (and I've seen 'em all many times) that actively reminded me of the early Sean Connery era. For the first time in EONs (and yes, that is a pun for you fans out there), a James Bond movie concentrated on the man himself instead of the every increasing slew of silly gadgets and OTT computer graphics. This is probably due to the fact that it based on an original Ian Fleming story - at last!

The comparison with the Connery era was no accident. Looking at the locations (and the beautiful use of the DB5), you were eerily transported back to those early adventures...Nassau (Thunderball), Venice (From Russia With Love) and even the use of the Casino Royale itself (anyone remember the first few scenes in Dr No at the Casino?) - gave over the message that Bond was back - and Daniel Craig was no flash in the pan (a la George Lazenby)

My only complaints:

a) The worryingly excessive use of product placement - how many times do I need to be reminded that 007 only uses Sony Vaio laptops and Sony Erricson phones - which is all the more suspect, granted that Sony Pictures was one of the studios behind the movie.

b) Bond's propensity to heal ever-so quickly after near-death inducing escapades.

That aside, Daniel Craig is a fabulous 007. He has certainly made his mark and juicily placed the vocal army of naysayers in their sorry place. He was absolutely terrific and, to my surprise, even managed to replace Pierce Brosnan as the best Bond since Connery.

No, let me rephrase that.
He's the best Bond alongside Connery - yes, he's that good.

Teacher's Rating

**** ½

Sunday, 19 November 2006

CD Review: The Beatles "Love"


I would imagine that I approached this album in the same cautious way as any other dedicated Beatles' fan. Having heard it a number of times on the radio or off the beatles.com site, I'm a now a firm fan.

There are moments of sheer beauty on this album, for example, the segueing of the opening bars from Blackbird into a fully blown version of Yesterday. The entire medley (all 80 minutes of it) does take some getting used to, but once you've listened to it a number of times, I don't think you'll be too disappointed. True, some combinations don't work as well as others (I wasn't particularly enamoured with the combination of Octopus's Garden and Goodnight), but hearing the terrific version of Within You Without You coupled with the amazing drumming in Tomorrow Never Knows was nothing short of jaw dropping. This album needs to be listened to in one sitting to be really appreciated.

The danger was that this project would turn out to be a rehash of the hideous Stars On 45, but under the watchful (and respectful) eye of Sir George Martin and his son Giles, the Beatles' legacy remains intact.

The only poignant bit - what would John and George have thought?

Strongly Recommended, especially if you're a Beatles fan and as such, I'm giving it the Full Monty in terms of ratings. If you're not, borrow a copy...

*****

Thursday, 16 November 2006

For All Of You Artists Out There...

Have a look at this.

Wednesday, 15 November 2006

Bad News For Israel's Image

This is the text of an email I received this morning:

"Al-Jazeera launches a pan-Arab English TV channel

Dear friend of
JerusalemOnline,

We would like to take this opportunity to thank you once again for your constant support of JerusalemOnline.

JerusalemOnline’s primary goals are to strengthen the relationship between Israel and English speakers around the world and to bridge the informational gap that exists in the international media today. In addition – we try to improve Israel's image in the world by providing our viewers with honest and balanced content.

Israel and its worldwide supporters are facing a new challenge.

Last week we learned that Al-Jazeera is about to launch an English language offshoot of its pan-Arab television channel on November 15th. Al-Jazeera's plan is to broadcast its news content in English, on television and via the Internet, all in an effort to promote its agenda around the world.

To read more about Al-Jazeera plans -
click here

This latest development means that JerusalemOnline's purpose is more important than ever. Therefore, your help in distributing our web address, www.JerusalemOnline.com, to English speakers around the world, both Israel supporters and others, is needed.

Please send this e-mail to your e-mail database (friends, organizations' members, co-workers etc.) and tell them about JerusalemOnline, the first-of-a-kind, to-the-point, balanced news update that is provided by Channel 2 News, Israel’s leading television news source. In addition – we are currently seeking the resources needed in order to face this new challenge posed by Al-Jazeera. Your help is important. For more info please contact us.

JerusalemOnline was founded and developed as a business with a clear purpose. This is not just another news service. We really care about helping Israel in its uphill battle against biased media coverage. We really dream of a change in the region. We want to improve Israel's image by broadcasting true and accurate information.

With your support – we believe it is possible to make the dream comes true. Help us by sending the link and by joining our efforts to raise the necessary resources in order to face the challenges ahead.

One day the world will see Israel as it really is. It's all up to all of us.

Yours truly,

Doron Landau and Itai Green
The JerusalemOnline.com founders"

A Religious Iranian Bomb

Daniel Doron, THE JERUSALEM POST Nov. 13, 2006

The leaders of Iran, the ayatollahs, keep threatening that Israel, the Little Satan, and its master, the Great Satan - America - will be vanquished before long (three to five years?) by a triumphalist, nuclear-armed Islam determined to establish Allah's rule even at the cost of martyrdom. Yet the world does not seem too exercised. In fact Russia and China lend Iran a helping hand.

How serious is this threat, and, if it is serious, how to face it? At least part of the answer to these questions may involve factors, religious, nationalist and economic, that are not commonly discussed. Living in a secular culture, most of us underestimate the determination of true believers. We forget that only recently a relatively civilized Europe was engaged for centuries in the most bloody religious - and then ideological - wars. So we do not fully appreciate how martyrdom-seeking fanatics may take extraordinary risks and ignore the restraints that a balance of terror imposed on atomic confrontations in the past.

ESTABLISHING Muhammad's law by the sword, a basic duty for many Islamists (the Islamic empire stretching from ocean to ocean was not won, remember, by turning the other cheek), demands that Shi'ite Iran not only vanquish the Dar El-Harb (House of War) of Christendom, but also the intolerable Sunni heresy. The ayatollahs are therefore cleverly leveraging their war against Christianity and Judaism to also undermine, and eventually vanquish, Sunni regimes. For Jihadist Shi'ites, Sunni control of the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, by their most extreme sect, the Wahhabists, must be as outrageous as was the Muslim conquest of Jerusalem to the Crusaders. They must fervently feel that Saudi occupation has to be destroyed and replaced by Shi'ite rule.

But there are other, national and economic, reasons why the ayatollahs seek the destruction of Saudi Arabia, an ally of The Great Satan. A proud and racist (Aryan) nation, the Iranians have probably not forgotten nor forgiven Saudi support - and perhaps instigation - of Saddam Hussein's bloody war against them. It took decades, but the Iranians avenged America for deposing Muhammad Mossadeq's nationalist government. They killed hundreds of marines, kidnapped, tortured and brutally executed CIA operatives; they took American diplomats hostage and humiliated them. They will do the same, and worse, to the Saudis when they get a chance.

AS FOR economics: After having destroyed its prosperous agricultural sector by slapping on price controls that benefited its lower-middle-class supporters (the Bazareens), the ayatollahs have had to spend an annual fortune on the huge welfare system that supports millions of farmers who migrated to city shanty-towns. Welfare, allocated by family size, encouraged a population explosion that more than doubled Iran's population and created a huge burden on the national treasury.

The Iranians, who always pushed for higher oil prices even under the Shah, are now dependent for their survival on high income from oil. Saudi Arabia wants to curb oil prices to avoid development of alternative fuels and sources.

Control of oil prices is behind Iran's systematic military preparations to control the gulf's shipping lanes. It was behind the bloody Iraq-Iran war, and it is still a major Iranian objective. It made Iran occupy the islands in the gulf's exit and establish a base in the horn of Africa to stop US reinforcements coming through Suez. The possession of an atomic bomb will, at a minimum, neutralize Western resistance to Iran's gradual control of the flow and price of oil. Iran could counter any Western intention to intervene militarily against such control by a credible threat to blockade oil shipping or incinerate the gulf's oil fields and vulnerable loading facilities, thus plunging the West into a deadly economic crisis.

The West is not likely to confront a fanatic, nuclear-armed Iran over the price of oil. It will most likely compromise, namely, cave in. Iran will then be able to initiate a huge transfer of wealth that will gradually impoverish and strangulate Western economies and facilitate their "peaceful" domination by Islam (see what Arab oil money has already achieved in Europe).

If an opportunity arises then to demonstrate their determination and supremacy, the ayatollahs will no doubt try to annihilate Israel.

MEANWHILE, the Iranians cleverly exploit Arab, especially Saudi, hatred against the West and Israel, not only to distract attention from their ultimate goals but to actually assist them, as in Iraq, to gather jihad under the Shi'ite flag. Their sponsorship of worldwide terrorism, their undermining of any possible settlement of the Palestinian issue helps them rile up and distract Arab Sunni masses. They hope that, eventually, when the tsunami of Muslim anger finally breaks its bounds, as they predict, it will also sweep away corrupt Sunni Arab regimes and replace them and their by-then discredited dispensation, by a purer and triumphant Shi'ism.

This is an argument I made as long ago as the early 1990s (in The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times and The Jerusalem Post).

A strict oil blockade then, resulting in a severe cut in income, could have undermined the stability of the ayatollahs' regime, dependent on huge welfare payments. It would also have denied them the means for their costly atomic program.

Today it may be too late. However, it may still be worthwhile to test how the ayatollahs' welfare- and military-dependent regime copes with a severe drop in oil income.

Otherwise, military action seems the only alternative.
Copyright 1995-2006 The Jerusalem Post - http://www.jpost.com/

Saturday, 11 November 2006

Movie Review: Borat


The way you view this film will very much depend on how you feel about this character mocking your average American....and yes, making him/her look pretty ridiculous and at times, frighteningly racist.

However, if you look beyond the surface, you will find that there's quite a lot of depth to the character created by a very proud Jewish young man, called Sacha Baron Cohen. This is movie that works on many layers.

I really really enjoyed this film. At times, I laughed so hard, there were tears in my eyes but I also cringed when I was meant to and at the end of day found myself feeling rather sorry for Mr Baron Cohen's brilliant creation.

Borat will either leave you feeling hot or cold. Fortunately, I went with the joke and had a thoroughly enjoyable time.

Teacher's Rating

*****

Thursday, 9 November 2006

My Beauties


This was taken two weeks ago....aren't they gorgeous? (of course they are!)

Tuesday, 31 October 2006

Can You Relate?


In case you can't see the writing, the legend says:
"Exit 324 Closed. Sucks to be you, but I got fired today so don't expect any help".

Sunday, 29 October 2006

I Have Finally Made It Into The 21st Century

This is a bit of historic (nay, histrionic) post for me as it is the first written on my spanking new laptop (hooray I hear you cheer? Or maybe not). It's great having a portable pc, along with the freedom of being able to get my emails anywhere within reasonable reach of my wireless network.

Did I just mention wireless? That wonderful invention of the twenty first century?

Let me tell you about wireless (grunt, thump).

I'll say it three times:
Damn, damn, damn wireless.

It has taken me a day to set the bloody thing up. Don't get me wrong. There was nothing wrong with the equipment (besides the befuddling instructions which I still don't understand) - it was just the glut of totally incomprehensible material that I read on how to, not so much set it up, as secure it.

Oh yes.

Securing it.

I didn't have a problem finding the signal once I'd got the router configured (well, sort of). My laptop sprang to life...unfortunately to the keen attention of probably every other computer user in the neighberhood. Boy was I "unsecured"!

However, with the kind assistance of some people in the know (and a lot of swearing on my part), I have finally got this thing working the way I want it to. It tells me that I'm working on a secure connection and I have done as instructed, but I really can't understand why it is so tricky (no, read that as nightmarish) to set up a simple connection between two computers.

Now, I understand what a network key (please do not ask) as well as MAC thingy are. However, if you asked me to set it up again, I don't think I'd have an inkling of what I need to do.

Yes, I have made it into the twenty-first century but boy, have I aged in the process.

Friday, 27 October 2006

The Senator's Dilemma

While walking down the street one day a US senator is tragically hit by a truck and dies. His soul arrives in heaven and is met by St. Peter at the entrance.

"Welcome to heaven," says St. Peter. "Before you settle in, it seems there is a problem. We seldom see a high official around these parts,yousee, so we're not sure what to do with you."

"No problem, just let me in," says the man.

"Well, I'd like to, but I have orders from higher up. What we'll do is have you spend one day in hell and one in heaven. Then you can choose where to spend eternity."

"Really, I've made up my mind. I want to be in heaven," says the senator.

"I'm sorry, but we have our rules." says St. Peter.

And with that, St. Peter escorts him to the elevator and he goesdown,down, down to hell.

The doors open and he finds himself in the middleofagreen golf course. In the distance is a clubhouse and standing in front of it are all his friends and other politicians who had worked with him..

Everyone is very happy and in evening dress. They run to greet him, shake his hand, and reminisce about the good times they had while getting rich at the expense of the people. They play a friendly game of golf and then dine on lobster, caviarandchampagne.

Also present is the devil, who really is a very friendly guy who hasagood time dancing and telling jokes. They are having such a good time that before he realizes it, it is time to go. Everyone gives him a hearty farewell and waves while the elevator rises...

The elevator goes up, up, up and the door reopens on heaven where St. Peter is waiting for him.

"Now it's time to visit heaven."

So, 24 hours pass with the senator joining a group of contented souls moving from cloud to cloud, playing the harp and singing. They have a good time and, before he realizes it, the 24 hours havegoneby and St. Peter returns.

"Well, then, you've spent a day in hell and another in heaven.
Now choose your eternity."

The senator reflects for a minute, then he answers:

"Well, I would never have said it before, I mean heaven has been delightful, but I think I would be better off in hell."

So St. Peter escorts him to the elevator and he goes down, down, down to hell. Now the doors of the elevator open and he's in the middle of a barren land covered with waste and garbage. He sees all his friends, dressed in rags, picking up the trash and putting it in black bags as more trash falls from above.

The devil comes over to him and puts his arm around his shoulder. "I don't understand," stammers the senator.

"Yesterday I was here and there was a golf course and clubhouse, andweate lobster and caviar, drank champagne, and danced and had a great time.
Now there's just a wasteland full of garbage and my friends look miserable.
What happened?"

The devil looks at him, smiles and says, "Yesterday we were campaigning...... Today you voted."

Wednesday, 25 October 2006

Number 9, Number 9

How can it be that my Dassi, born only yesterday has already managed to reach her ninth birthday?

Where have I been?

What happened to that crying baby?

She celebrated her birthday by having her best friend stay over and this morning, engaging in a forty minute treasure hunt for the different components of her present - a mini video camera. Dana's taken them out to the theatre to see "Seven Brides For Seven Brothers", which I'm sure she'll love.

Happy birthday Dassi.
You're a star.

Tuesday, 24 October 2006

I Love This

I found this here.

Borat speaks Hebrew

Comedian Sacha Baron Cohen substitutes Hebrew for Kazakh in his satirical movie “Borat.” The anti-Semitic Kazakh television personality, one of several satirical creations by Cohen, a British Jew, for his “Ali G” show, appears in his own movie next month. The opening sequence of the film was released Monday over YouTube.

In it, Borat takes leave of his ancestral village, telling one resident, according to the subtitle, “Doltan, I’ll get you a new arm in America.”

In fact, Cohen says in Hebrew, “I’ll buy you some kind of a new arm.”

Borat also parries with his wife in Hebrew.

The film covers Borat’s travels through the United States, revealing his own bigotries, sexism and backwardness as well as those of his subjects.

Appalled by the success of the character, Kazakhstan’s government has launched a counter-campaign extolling the Central Asian nation’s virtues.

Replacing Kazakh with Hebrew is a stroke of genius (granted that SBC probably can't speak a word of Kazakh).

Nice to see another member of our tribe doing so well, even if he's doing his best to piss off the Kazakhs, who, if they were clever, would laugh along at the joke instead of playing right into his hands.

With an abysmal PR machine like theirs, they deserve this movie.

Crabby Old Woman

When an old lady died in the geriatric ward of a small hospital near Dundee,
Scotland, it was believed that she had nothing left of any value.

Later, when the nurses were going through her meager possessions, they found this poem. Its quality and content so impressed the staff that copies were made and distributed to every nurse in the hospital. One nurse took her copy to Ireland. The old lady's sole bequest to posterity has since appeared in the Christmas edition of the News Magazine of the North Ireland Association for Mental Health.

A slide presentation has also been made based on her simple, but eloquent,
poem. And this little old Scottish lady, with nothing left to give to the world,
is now the author of this "anonymous" poem winging across the Internet:

Crabby Old Woman

What do you see, nurses ........ What do you see?
What are you thinking ........... When you're looking at me?
A crabby old woman .............. Not very wise,
Uncertain of habit, ............. With faraway eyes?
Who dribbles her food ....... And makes no reply.
When you say in a loud voice, .. "I do wish you'd try!"
Who seems not to notice ........ The things that you do,
And forever is losing ........... A stocking or shoe?

Who, resisting or not, .......... Lets you do as you will,
With bathing and feeding, .......The long day to fill?
Is that what you're thinking? ... Is that what you see?
Then open your eyes, nurse, .....You're not looking at me.
I'll tell you who I am .......... As I sit here so still,
As I do at your bidding, ........As I eat at your will.
I'm a small child of ten ........With a father and mother,
Brothers and sisters ............Who love one another.

A young girl of sixteen .........With wings on her feet
Dreaming that soon now ......... A lover she'll meet.
A bride soon at twenty, ........ My heart gives a leap,
Remembering the vows ............That I promised to keep.

At twenty-five now, .............I have young of my own,
Who need me to guide ............And a secure happy home.
A woman of thirty, ..............My young now grown fast,
Bound to each other .............With ties that should last.

At forty, my young sons .........Have grown and are gone,
But my man's beside me ......... To see I don't mourn
At fifty once more, ............Babies play round my knee,
Again we know children, .........My loved one and me.

Dark days are upon me, ..........My husband is dead,
I look at the future, ...........I shudder with dread.
For my young are all rearing ....Young of their own,
And I think of the years ........And the love that I've known.

I'm now an old woman.............And nature is cruel;
Tis jest to make old age ........Look like a fool.
The body, it crumbles, ..........Grace and vigor depart,
There is now a stone ............Where I once had a heart.

But inside this old carcass .....A young girl still dwells,
And now and again, ..............My battered heart swells.
I remember the joys, ............I remember the pain,
And I'm loving and living .......Life over again.

I think of the years ............All too few, gone too fast,
And accept the stark fact .......That nothing can last.
So open your eyes, people, ......Open and see,
Not a crabby old woman; .........Look closer....see, ME!!

Remember this poem when you next meet an older person who you might brush aside without looking at the young soul within...we will all, one day, be there, too!

Monday, 23 October 2006

Shredding The Master

I've joined the forum on the Paul McCartney website and left a few messages of support.

I'm sure that some of the information coming out from the other side does have a ring of truth, but I find it impossible to believe that the man who wrote No More Lonely Nights, And I Love Her, Here, There and Everywhere or All My Loving was going around attacking his wife with a broken bottle or pushing her (whilst pregnant) into the bath.

The assertion that he made her walk on her hands and knees up a staircase doesn't make sense when you consider that he's spent the last five years or so campaigning for the abolition of (leg demolishing) landmines.

Paul McCartney is no saint (is anyone?) but at this time in his life, he really shouldn't have to be dealing with all this crap. He is Paul McCartney, one quarter of a band whose motto was "All You Need Is Love" and the idea that he did all those things to his wife is frankly ludicrous.

I hope this sorry affair can be sorted out as soon as possible so that he can concentrate on what he does best - creating beautiful music.

The sooner he's rid of her, the happier we will all be.

Sunday, 22 October 2006

Movie Review: The Departed



Martin Scorcese holds a very special place in my movie heart. I believe that he is one of the few directors out there, whose output constantly brims with quality and class.

With this in mind, I approached The Departed...

Apparently, this is a remake of the Japanese cop flick Infernal Affairs, a movie that I've heard of but never seen, so am unable to comment on how accurate or successful this Americanization is. What I will say is that the acting by the main protagonists is once again superb. Was I really watching Matt Damon shining in a role? I knew that Dicaprio could act, as can the always reliable Jack Nicholson, but Matt Damon? This guy is spot-on as the main character.

The script crackles with more than your average one liners and the story bristles along involving you from the very first frame. My only complaint is the length, which I feel could have been judiciously trimmed. Aside from that, this is Scorcese doing what he does best, telling a story with style, verve and humour - and extracting top notch performances from his stellar cast.

Recommendation: go see, but keep in mind that Marty likes his violence and there are some pretty bloody scenes throughout. If only he'd applied his talents to the editing process, this movie would have been ace.

Teacher's Rating

****½

Friday, 20 October 2006

The Brick Testament

I've come across a website that I'd like to share with you. Somebody has decided to recreate scenes from the bible in Lego. Fortunately, this has been done (with an understandable) tongue in cheek and the result is very very funny.

Here's a screenshot of Adam and Eve:


Have a look (and a laugh, particularly at the sections deaing with sex) here.

Warning: If you take your religious beliefs very seriously, keep well clear!

Thursday, 19 October 2006

Big Mistake

"Dickhead"

"You can't control a class"

"You're a terrible teacher"

These are some choice comments addressed to me today by some of my delightful Year 11 students.

Why the f*** did I go back in today?

Tuesday, 17 October 2006

300 Million

The population of the US (according to the US Census) now stands at over 300 million. Just consider the future Hollywood stars born on this very day.

...and to think that I could have made a really serious social comment instead!

I'm Feeling Yeuchy

I knew that when I finished off my classes yesterday, I’d probably not be in today as the cold virus was starting to get the better of me.
You know, the blocked nose, headache etc.

So here I am at home, relaxing and recharging my batteries. From experience, I’ve found that it’s best to take a day off when you don’t feel that great, as the kids, bless ‘em tend to wear you down - particularly when you feel yeuchy.

This is the first sick I’ve taken in ages and believe me, with the way I feel, I would really rather be in the classroom right now (although I am missing teaching 8J, which is not necessarily a bad thing…)

Monday, 16 October 2006

Presi-don't

I don't know whether or not the President of Israel, Moshe Katsav is guilty of rape and sexual harrassment, as suggested by the Israeli Police report released yesterday.

What I do know, is that Israel has enough things to worry about, without witnessing the one area of officialdom that really should be above politics.

The said holder must, in my opinion, immediately cease from holding office until the accusations have been fully dealt with. Any other course of action degrades both the State of Israel and any of us who still give a damn about her wellbeing.

I have to say that I am truly disgusted by what I am finding out about, through reading the (Israeli) media. Yes, Mr Katsav is still innocent until found guilty, but in reality, the whole sordid affair stinks to high heaven.

Chaim Weitzman, the first president must no doubt be spinning in his grave, alongside Ben Gurion, the first Prime Minister.

We Jews should really know better.

Sunday, 15 October 2006

Season's End

Well, this evening saw the end of the festivities with the first stars announcing the return of normality to our daily lives.

I enjoy the Jewish festivals a lot. Starting with the New Year (Rosh Hashanah) on the first day of the Hebrew month of Tishri, we enter a time of reflection that doesn't really end until the 23rd of the month (or if you are in Israel, the 22nd) as we finish reading the fifth book of the Bible (Deuteronomy) and immediately flick back to the birth of the universe in Genesis.

However, too much of good thing is never healthy and so, now, we are ready to face the new year in the hope that it will be a damn sight better than the one we've just left.

The festival of Simchat Torah (literally "rejoicing in the Torah") is floating away as I write (unless you're reading this in the US!) and I feel a rush of relief that once again, I've come through the holidays...and can enjoy the other pleasures that life has to offer (like a full weekend!)

Thursday, 12 October 2006

A Time To Live

When I spoke to Dana this morning, she told me that a young man I knew of, had tragically succumbed to the brain tumour that had plagued him for the last year-and-a-half.

He was not yet 25 years old.

Later on, she told me that one of my oldest friends has finally become engaged to a Canadian girl. I couldn't be happier for him...despite the fact that he's totally written me out of his life (for no reason that I can comprehend) .

So one man dies and the other finds true happiness whilst I find out about both events on the very same day.

How can one reconcile oneself with such opposing pieces of news?

Does my joy at the engagement mean that I am negating the tragedy of the death? Alternatively, if I mourn the death of the young man, can I really celebrate my friend's engagement?

At this juncture in the Hebrew Calendar, we are about to read the Book of Kohelet - Ecclesiastes. King Solomon tells us that...

"Everything has an appointed season, and there is a time for every matter under the heaven.

A time to give birth and a time to die;
a time to plant and a time to uproot that which is planted."

Maybe, this wisest of men holds the answer to my quandary, for today, I witnessed both the "time to die" and the "time to plant".

I guess that I need these "times" to make me appreciate what really matters in the overall scheme of things.

So I will mourn the death of the lad, but keep in mind the belief that this young man, were he alive would no doubt share in the joy of another human being finally finding his soul mate - and I guess that this is the only way to deal with this very human quandary.