Your Brain is Green
Of all the brain types, yours has the most balance. You are able to see all sides to most problems and are a good problem solver. You need time to work out your thoughts, but you don't get stuck in bad thinking patterns. You tend to spend a lot of time thinking about the future, philosophy, and relationships (both personal and intellectual).

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The US Is Too Much In Love With Guns To Ever Control Them

I wrote yesterday that soon we'd hear that the reason the children were massacred in Connecticut was that there weren't enough guns around, well, the victims aren't all buried yet, and it's begun... Along with the rationalizations why the US can't ever have gun control.

What was that about "fast as a speeding bullet"?  Oh, that was how fast Superman was supposed to be able to move.  So are the pens of the gun lovers very fast.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Reflections on the US's Latest Gun Tragedy

When the first news broke of the school massacre, my husband asked "Arabs?", meaning "is this an Islamic terrorist attack?"  THAT is completely understandable to him.  I replied that it most probably was an ex-school employee who'd been fired or some other borderline lunatic who'd snapped, and my husband's next question was "Why didn't the school guards stop him?"  to which I had to reply that schools in the US do not usually have guards at the gates as all of our schools do.

My own unworthy thought was, yes, it is really terrible, but what can one expect when guns are so readily available to the sane, the insane, and the mildly mentally deranged.?  Someone once estimated that if one-tenth of one percent of Americans were crazy enough to want to assassinate the President, that meant the Secret Service had to keep tabs on over 30,000 people.  I'm waiting for the NRA or the gun lobby to claim that the massacre could have been averted, not with stricter gun control, but if more citzens packed six-shooters and so could have "taken out the shooter" before he managed to kill so many.

And then I thought, to all those American parents in towns all over the US, who have children in unguarded classrooms, now you know how we feel every single day, since we don't have to fear the lone meshuggeneh but tens, if not hundreds, of thousands who plan to do this to our children [and us] all the time. [And there are rumblings, following the Hamas rally in Hebron yesterday, that another intifada might erupt soon]

But we have guards at the gates, everywhere.  And strict gun laws.  And no Palestinian school bus, or school, has ever been attacked by us.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

No Comment Needed

Chan Lowe
Dec 4, 2012

Catching UP

There's been rather a gap, occasioned [mostly] my the cruise my husband and I took at the beginning of November, and then, we returned to a "war", and my granddaughter decided to stop holding on to things and we haven't caught up with her yet...and more routine things like cleaning a house which had been shut up for two weeks, shopping, doing two weeks' worth of laundry, doctors' appointments, and so on.

Friar Yid has made a number of interesting posts on his blog, which deserve longer comments than one usually puts on a blog, FY, you're not forgotten!

I've got a bit to write about our cruise, and what impressed me most, and of course, the recent outbreak of hostilities with Hamas.  Going back a bit, I think the US elections deserve a certain amount of attention, especially since I think the reason Hamas was more antsy than usual was because they thought Obama wouldn't support Israel any more than he has done previously.

It just happened that my computer went blooey two days before we went on vacation, and I didn't get it back from the "computer hospital", where it underwent a total reinstall of Windows, until about a week after we returned.  The new install required reinstallation of a lot of programs [fortunately most data was stored on an external hard drive, but I had to completely rebuild my iTunes library, and I have about 200 GB of music and audiobooks, all lovingly categorized into playlists, and that vanished with the program].  Moreover the nice guys who repaired my computer installed Office 2007 -- I'd previously had Office 2003 -- and that took some getting used to.  I'm still wrestling with Excell.  The old version allowed me to simply enter number series; this version tries to turn any combination of numbers into a two decimal number as if it was money.  There must be a way around this, but I haven't discovered it yet.

So bear with me, eventually I'll have some uninterrupted time to pontificate on the state of the world, or at least Antigonos' part of it.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


Seth Mandel writes about Obama's "Doctrine of Revenge" in Commentary.  I was immediately struck by this quote by Obama from the last debate:

Imagine if we had pulled out at that point. You know, Moammar Gadhafi had more American blood on his hands than any individual other than Osama bin Laden. And so we were going to make sure that we finished the job.
Uh, come again --"we"?  The American ground forces who were noticeable by their absence in Libya while the British, French and NATO troops assisted the Libyan rebels?  So sorry, but Obama did everything possible to avoid taking charge ["leading from behind" really just means "following"] while his European allies, fed up with him, took action.

At least he's now admitting that he didn't personally kill bin Laden, by saying "we...finished that job". Immediately after the SEALs went in, it was all "I" did this and "I" did that...

Monday, October 22, 2012

I Rode a Bus Today

I had a delightful experience today.

I'm joking.

My car decided to misbehave and went on strike on my way to run a few errands. My ever-helpful son-in-law Shlomi, who works for his father's auto parts store,  arrived with a technician who managed to get it to a neighboring garage.  The immobilizer had gone berserk, apparently, and was shutting down the motor every time I put it in gear.

Nothing daunted, I decided to take the bus into the town center, where I needed to go. I was raised, after all,  to be a big fan of public transport and to regard the selfish car owner as lacking in civic duty.   Initially this seemed like a good idea, as parking is always a problem, and I wasn't going to be shlepping any large or heavy packages anywhere.  I haven't been on any form of public transportation since we bought our second-hand Hyundai Getz from Avis three years ago.  When downtown Jerusalem was dug up, rather in the manner of the trenches of Ypres or Verdun, for the light railway, what had been a 20 minute bus trip from my house to my place of work, across from the open air Machaneh Yehuda market, on bus line 18 became a 2 hour nightmare.  Buses were diverted to a narrow street that runs parallel to Jaffa Road, one of Jerusalem's major thoroughfares, and with 800 buses a day scraping by each other on Agrippas Street, which ought really to be one way, it literally WAS faster to walk. [Recently it became known that the bus company, hand in glove with the light railway management, was bribed to continue the detour after the completion of the railway so the public would take the trains more often]

I only had to wait a few minutes for the bus heading into town.  It rapidly filled up to the point where sardines would have complained but I am now completely unashamed to take a place reserved for the handicapped and will show my hip replacement card to anyone who challenges me [I suppose it's some kind of a compliment that I don't look old enough to get a senior citizen seat -- I'll be 66 tomorrow].  It was interesting to watch the scenery rather than the road.  Anyone who has ever driven in Israel will understand that it is dangerous to even blink when behind the wheel unless one wants to collide with a cellphone user in the wrong lane or a pedestrian who thinks crosswalks are for sissies.  I also stared out the window to avoid catching the eye of some octogenarian who'd give me an "accidental" whack with his cane to encourage me to give him or her my seat.

It only took about 45 minutes to get to my destination.  Can't complain; the bus had functioning airconditioning and whenever someone asked him to turn it off, the driver mimed that he was deaf.

Did the various things I had to do, and went back to the bus stop for the return journey.  It was 3:15 p.m.  After over 10 buses of other lines went by, my bus arrived at 4 p.m. [This is one of the most heavily traveled routes in the city, btw, not some line going to distant suburbs].  It was dirty, no functioning airconditioning, packed to the gills already -- in fact, the bus was so decrepit that its fare machine didn't work either, so we all traveled for free.  I got to the garage in the southern neighborhood of Talpiot at five minutes to five, having traveled less than 5 km.  You can go from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv in half the time.

Thank heaven tomorrow I'll have the use of my car again [immobilizer disabled].  And should anyone from the Egged Bus Cooperative be reading this [extremely unlikely], I want to thank you all for reminding me why I have chosen to clog up the roads and pollute the air with my little Getz, your service is so abominable.  Please God, it will be at least another three years before I ride on one of your buses again.

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter: Israeli-Palestinian peace is 'vanishing'-

See here and here.

Dear Jimmy,
Read my lips.  There has never been peace between the Palestinians and Israel because the only peace the Palestinians will accept is the peace of the grave for us. 

It's not up to us.  What part of "we refuse to recognize the existence of the State of Israel" do you have trouble understanding?

That you think that Israel's very existence is the obstacle to peace in the region just shows [1] how completely delusional you are, and [2] just how vicious an anti-Semite you are, as well.

Retire to your peanut farm, where the crops have the same IQ you do.

Thank you.

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Quickest Way to Further a Political Career?

It is deeply unsavory that two convicted felons are staging political "comebacks" without any real objection from the Israeli public: Aryeh Deri of Shas, and Ehud Olmert [who knows where he'll wind up, at present].  They aren't the first in Israeli political life, either.

In many countries -- for example, the US, in Federal elections -- convicted felons are denied the right to vote, having forfeited the privilege by their criminal and/or antisocial behavior.  Not so Israel.  Deri has never made any secret that he feels he was victimized, AFAIK he never admitted guilt or remorse.  Olmert had a reputation for cronyism, if not outright corruption, long before he even became Jerusalem's mayor.  Yet both these men don't see this as a bar to political life; indeed, it almost is regarded as being worthy of being in one's CV. [Katsav, our former President, convicted of rape, and the conviction upheld on appeal,  actually has the chutzpah to request a pardon, the newspapers reported only a few days ago]

Shas has always been a party out for what it could grab for its constituents, not a party which wanted to benefit Israel as a whole .  Maybe that's why it doesn't see the immorality of letting Deri behave as if his conviction for fraud and bribery doesn't matter.  But it should matter, deeply.  The Mizrachim in today's Israel are not the destitute, uneducated people they were in the ma'abarot back in the Fifties.  One could hope that today's generation has the sense and the education to see that, in the long run, they are only hurting themselves.

Olmert is a bit different, but no less deeply flawed.  If Israel had a Tammany Hall, he'd be leading it.  Tammany Hall, incidentally, did many good things for New Yorkers; but it was, on the whole, a kind of local Mafia [the Mafia also helped people who were politically powerless, it needs to be remembered.  They just did it in criminal, and often brutal, ways].  Olmert, who is a lawyer, knows exactly what he is doing; it can be argued that, at least at the beginning, Deri was more naive.  He was, after all, the gofer for the Sephardi Chief Rabbi, Ovadia Yosef, and power intoxicated him, most likely.  Olmert has always had the smarts to be more calculating.

Israel doesn't need either of them, and the electorate should reject both of them.  But, the way things work in Israel, that won't happen, because the public doesn't control internal party politics here.  No party is really accountable to its constituents -- and that's Israel's tragedy.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Cue the Doors' "The End" Please

Scott Stantis
Chicago Tribune
Sep 7, 2012
Boy, am I glad that's over, and we can get back to the NFL season...gotta be thankful that Israel didn't have live coverage of either convention [it would have been in the middle of the night here, and Israelis need their sleep...

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Bruce Plante
Tulsa World
Sep 6, 2012

Love Me Tender...

David Horsey
Los Angeles Times
Sep 6, 2012
Rock on!

Our Boy Bill

Randy Bish
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Sep 6, 2012
Just about every political commentator has weighed in with ecstatic reports of Clinton's nomination acceptance speech, oh, whoops, his endorsement of Obama, who probably would have preferred just about anyone else. Bill makes Barack look really, well, un-Presidential. So what that Bill got his rocks off with Monica? Otherwise, in areas that really count like domestic and foreign policy [this after a few missteps at the outset], he left the US in good nick, not like the Death of A Thousand Cuts Obama seems determined to make Americans endure. Heck, if Bill could run again, I'd vote for him in preference to both Romney and Obama.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

"Legitimate" Issues

I wish I knew what "legitimate rape" is.  I know what it is to dorks like Todd Akin:  sexual intercourse with a woman who really means "no", not "no, but.."

All the brouhaha really centers around two issues.  One is stupidity, and the other is related to the way men perceive women.

I would have found the "you can't get pregnant from rape" comment merely laughable except that Akin's ignorance of biology is very widespread.  When I taught preparation for childbirth classes to Manhattan yuppies in the 70s, I was appalled at just how little my  college-educated female students knew about the their own reproductive system.  I was asked about wandering uteri, whether swallowing semen could result in pregnancy, whether it was "safe" to have sex during the menstrual period,  could one become pregnant without having an orgasm, if urinating immediately after sex would "wash out" the semen and could therefore be contraceptive, and a lot of other fascinating questions.  [Remember, this was all pre-AIDS, and a woman who kept a spare condom in her handbag was undoubtedly "looking for it"]

Here in Israel, dealing with infertility issues in the clinic where I worked until a few months ago, since the majority of clients were haredi, sexual ignorance was more to be expected.  So maybe fundamentalist Christians, even married ones [I presume Akin is both fundamentalist and married] still think storks bring babies and words like estrogen and ovulation are "dirty".  I've written before that the most sexually-obsessed men I know are haredi men.  Literally everything in their lives is sexualized.

But it is the "you could tell she was up for it, even though she said no, by the way she walked/dressed/spoke" etc. which shows just how shallow the much-vaunted "political correctness" really is.  What the man is really thinking is "I'm such a stud, she [and by extension, all women] really can't resist me" -- in other words, he is reeeeely insecure about his own sexuality.  Or he is reeeely angry, because rape is ultimately about control and power and not about sex.  ["My penis is really a sword and I'm killing you"]  It is exceptionally easy to project onto the woman the man's own desires; indeed, this is the rationale for keeping Muslim women sequestered.  Women are thought to be weak-minded and insatiable and so have to be protected from the male gaze lest men will be driven mad with desire by their seductive wiles.

On a list I'm on, which discusses Diana Gabaldon's "Outlander" novels, there have been reams of opinions relating to an incident in which The Hero is blackmailed by an infatuated teenage girl into relieving her of her virginity before a marriage to an old man arranged by her parents.  As The Hero actually begins to penetrate her, she cries out "No!" and the discussion is about whether The Hero should have stopped at that point or whether, because he did continue [and of course, ultimately, she loved it] it was a rape.  The whole thing's a bit absurd.  Even in this PC world of ours, there comes a point when men are not going to stop, and say, "you've changed your mind, sorry, I won't bother you" without considerable distress.  She arranged the rendezvous, made absolutely explicit her desires, and up to the minute when it became slightly uncomfortable, was 100% consenting.  Beyond a certain point, if one changes one's mind, one has to live with the consequences and not cry rape.

I have no idea whether Akin, weird sexual beliefs aside, is an effective Congressman and is worth re-electing.  He is no more representative of Republicans than Strom Thurmond was of Democrats, and the current Democratic glee at having a "hot topic" to use as a club with which to beat the Republicans is just silly.  It only shows how desperately they are trying to deflect attention from the real issue of this election: the state of the US economy, Obama's total failure to deal with it, or his bankrupt "lead from behind" [since the IDF motto is "follow me" it is particularly contemptuous] foreign policy.  "Legitimate" or "illegitimate" [???] rape is not an election issue.

Barry Rubin, who should have a refuah shelayma*, has written a couple of very good posts, here, and here, on what is really at stake in the America of 2012.  Check him out.

*Barry has been diagnosed with cancer, and is in treatment, but he says the prognosis is not good.  I hope he responds well; his is a voice that we in Israel need badly and for a long time to come.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Cutting Edge

Recently, the whole topic of infant circumcision has revived in Europe with a great deal of very strong feeling.

It amazes me that while the infant is not protected by law from mothers who have weird ideas about how to give birth, so that they put their infants at serious risk of birth injury or death, a German court has decided to be the infant's advocate to protect his foreskin.  [The legal argument, of course, is that a fetus has no legal standing as a human being until born, and therefore no legal rights as an individual]

Other countries, such as Norway, are now allegedly considering a law which will make circumcision, for any reason, a crime before age 15.  That is absurd, for several reasons, which I'll get to.

Of course, Christians deliberately stopped circumcising their sons when they broke from Judaism and began sucking up to the Romans, who, like the Greeks, did not circumcise.  The Gentiles couldn't see the point of it, and the Christians were anxious to abrogate as much Mosaic Law as they could in order to be distinct from the Jews. 

Islam always required circumcision, and the practice in North Africa undoubtedly predated Mohammad, who co-opted it as being "normal".  The ancient Egyptians circumcised, and not a few soldiers from both the German and Allied armies discovered that the fine sand, continually present everywhere, got under the foreskin and caused sores, and therefore the custom might have had something to do with making for a more comfortable life.  There not being any deserts like the Sahara in northern Europe, no one thought of either this problem or the obvious solution to it.

Educated Victorians, who had a number of obsessions about sex and sexuality as well as hygiene, adopted the practice.  Queen Victoria had all her sons circumcised as infants, in fact the circumciser was a mohel recommended by the Chief Rabbi [and the Windsor family has continued the practice: Prince Charles was circumcised in the same way].  Circumcision has been alleged to not only be cleaner, but to prevent a number of female gynecological problems such as yeast infections and cancer of the cervix, as well as being helpful to prolonging the act of intercourse by the supposed slight "desensitation" of the head of the penis.  It was also supposed to keep boys from masturbating as much.

These claims are unproved, and largely unproveable.  But there are two indisputable medical reasons for male circumcision, phimosis and the transmission of HIV.

Phimosis affects about 6% of males, usually either around age 6 or at puberty.  The foreskin simply cannot stretch and becomes a tight band, causing pain and can impede blood flow to the point of penile gangrene if ignored.  It becomes evident at these ages because of the boy's growth spurt when he's about 6, and when he first begins to have erections that aren't accidental.  Lest one think this is no big deal, in two cases phimosis caused major historical events.  Louis XV [or XVI, I forget] could not consummate his marriage to Marie Antoinette for a number of years, during which time she diverted herself with diamond necklaces and a lover and which made her distinctly unloved by the French, and Catherine the Great had to resort to a lover to become pregnant and provide an heir to the Russian throne.  In both cases, neither man could have intercourse until he'd been circumcised.

The other medical benefit of circumcision, which is now proved beyond doubt, is that HIV transmission is reduced by up to 65% in men who have been circumcised.  Some African tribes historically have used circumcision as a "rite of passage" ritual, but many have not, and there is now a massive campaign in Black Africa to provide free circumcision to men [even giving them a small cash grant, or something like a radio to increase the incentive].  So much for a doctor, Norwegian or German, I forget which, who claims there is no medical rationale for the practice.

Jews circumcise on the 8th day for a couple of very good reasons.  One is that Vitamin K levels in the infant's blood have returned to normal levels by then, after dropping at birth.  Vitamin K is involved in blood coagulation.  Another is that the operation is a very minor one; the infant isn't even aware, and given a dose of paracetamol before, often doesn't even cry.  [We were taught in nursing school that the nerve pathways are immature, and what the baby resents is being restrained]  Certainly, a child of 6 will be much more traumatized, psychologically if not physically, and I shudder to think what an adolescent boy would experience. [In point of fact, I have been involved in assisting with a number of adult circumcisions: when the large Russian aliyah took place, entire families, sometimes 3 generations, requested circumcision as it had not been available for 70 years in the USSR.  The Israeli government made arrangements with a number of hospitals to do it for free.  It is not anywhere as simple or painless as infant circumcision, and there is a greater chance of a number of complications such as hemorrhage or infection]  Muslims, btw, have traditionally had big celebrations when a circumcision took place, anywhere between 7 and 12 years of age, and it has been postulated that the sequestration of women may have a component of sexual anxiety in the Arab male.  Who knows?  But the concept of forcing a boy to wait until adulthood is tantamount to saying "we will make the whole business so frightening and unpleasant that you will forego it".

What the anti-circumcision Europeans don't know, and/or don't want to admit, is that they know full well that they are attacking a practice which is one of the fundamentals of both Judaism and Islam.  Neither Jews nor Muslims will stop circumcising their sons  because  a Christian government tells them to.  Both Jews and Muslims don't care that it is medically beneficial; it simply is a direct commandment from God that they must obey.  This is, make no mistake about it, an overt manifestation of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia masking itself in some very dubious, indeed, erroneous, scientific claims and spurious concern about "human rights".

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Keep Your Damn Hands Off My Feeding Method of Choice, or, No GuvvamintTells Me What To Do with My Boobs

I breastfed my son exclusively for 6 weeks.  He cried all the time.  Diapers were dry when they shouldn't have been.  Test weighing before and after feeds indicated he was at most getting 50cc per feed, and his birth weight was over 4 kg [9 lbs].  Finally, in desperation, I gave him a bottle.  He gulped down 250 cc in a flash, burped, went to sleep for 4 hours.  Peed.  Carried on with breast and bottle, when I finally decided to discontinue breastfeeding, didn't have a minute's discomfort from engorged breasts.  The lesson learned, in spite of being at times a lactation counselor, was that I simply made very little milk.

With my daughter, two years later, I developed a raging fever and mastitis in both breasts a week after giving birth to her, which required antibiotics, and then I got mild pneumonia.  From the age of two weeks she was entirely bottlefed.

With #3, second daughter, I began by both breastfeeding and bottlefeeding supplement after the breast.  She was happy; I was happy.  The nursing went a lot better, although, judging by the amount of formula she drank, she wasn't getting a great deal from me.  I figured she was getting my antibodies which was the main thing.

Yes, yes, I know that the plural of anecdote isn't data.  But the point I'm trying to make is that flexibility is very important, and that babies can indeed suffer when the Lactation Nazis coerce women into using only one feeding method.

The other day I unearthed, when going through my memorabilia in search of some documents proving I exist, the card my mother got from the hospital with the instructions for making up my formula in 1946.  In those days one used cow's milk, water, and sugar in carefully measured amounts and made up a day's supply at a time, put it into glass bottles and sterilized the lot before refrigerating it.  It was a finicky and time-consuming process, and my mother, at least, was in a constant state of anxiety that she'd not done it correctly.  Obviously, I survived, as did literally millions of other children so fed.  At the time, it was the "modern" way for a modern mother to feed her child.  Dr. Spock goes into considerable detail about bottle feeding but offers no advice for nursing mothers in his 1946 edition of his famous childcare book.

All that has long changed.  For one thing, cow's milk, or indeed, whole milk of any kind isn't used any more.  The basic objection was that the type of fat [not the amount] in cows' milk was not easy for a baby's gut to digest.  Since the milk substitutes these days are virtually vegetarian in origin, and the type of fat is as close to that of human milk as can be synthesized, that problem is gone.  So is the problem of "milk allergy" [lactose intolerance, usually].  Recently, studies have shown, in Israel anyway, that breast milk is very often deficient in Vitamins D and B12; modern formulas are all rich in vitamins and trace elements.  In fact, there is only one area where a modern milk substitute falls short: it does not have maternal antibodies against certain diseases, mostly minor [ear infections are less in breastfed babies than in exclusively bottle fed babies].  Moreover, babies begin to develop their own resistance quite early.

A lot used to be made of the fact that breast milk is "always at the right temperature" and there isn't any fussing with bottles and synthetic nipples.  Studies have shown that babies can drink either expressed breast milk or formula directly from the fridge with no ill effect; by the time it has reached the stomach, it  is warm.  No one sterilizes bottles any more, either, but makes up the formula in a clean bottle just before feeding [prefilled disposable bottles are sterilized, of course], using boiled water. That negates the "fuss factor" that my mother went through.  Human nipples are often not really conducive for inexperienced babies to suck on.  While, except in some prematures, all babies have a sucking reflex, it is indiscriminate, and many babies have a lot of trouble latching on.  Bottle nipples are better designed as milk delivery devices.

Fathers cannot breast feed, period.  So being rigid about exclusive breastfeeding cuts him right out of the equation. "Let him bathe the baby" I was advised at one point in my midwifery training.  New dads are unlikely to feel that coping with a squirming, slippery, wet infant is as pleasurable a feeling as giving their offspring a bottle -- deep down inside, many men are Yiddishe Mommas.  And some women definitely use nursing as a tool to avoid intimacy with their husbands, for a variety of reasons.  It is very tiring; a breastfed baby rarely goes as much as three hours between feedings, day and night.  I know I felt as if my children were literally sucking the marrow out of my bones.

Back in my British days, the Ward Sister would visit each new mother.  Cambridge is in a largely agricultural area, and many of the new mothers were school leavers by the age of 16 and found the medical staff rather intimidating.  Sister would ask, in her poshest accent, "Are you going to feed the baby yourself, or are you going to...[slight pause for effect here] artificially feed the baby?'  It was a very brave young woman who asked for a bottle after that, but when the district midwife made her home visits after discharge, she almost inevitably found bottles of Cow & Gate, the British equivalent of Similac, in use.  All the coercive methods in the world will not increase compliance with breastfeeding, and in fact, provoke the opposite response from sheer annoyance.

Dr. Amy Tuteur has pointed out that a woman who wants to bottlefeed has made that decision before she ever asks for a bottle.  But there are some things that could be done which might make some women give nursing more of a chance.  Increase, for example, hospital stays beyond two nights.  The milk comes in only on the third day normally, and while colostrum is adequate for the baby's nutritional needs, many newborns are [1] not hungry initially, and [2] the mother really has little or nothing to give.  But she's discharged before she and the baby have a good nursing experience in hospital -- and in fact, is discharged just when she comes down off her cloud with a bump and has "third day baby blues".  There she is, at home, alone, feeling crummy with a baby who won't stop screaming -- which leads to the next thing a new mother needs: home visits by professional midwives during the first two weeks. [This is legally required in the UK].  Not just to assist with nursing, but with other postpartum issues.  A mother who is exhausted, and in pain from stitches or hemorrhoids can actually have less milk.  She certainly has less patience with a cranky infant.

If one wants a mother to continue nursing after the first weeks, or the first couple of months, maternity leave must be extended and a mother not penalized by losing a substantial amount of income.  Most women aren't working for the love of the job but because their financial input is essential these days.  No amount of legislation decreeing that there should be better conditions on the job for women who need to pump will encourage women to do so if they are needed at their desks constantly -- and that's a staffing issue.  It can take half an hour, every three hours, for a woman to empty her breasts, which means a lot of time away from her desk.  If she has to use an unsanitary bathroom, or miss lunch, or has no place to refrigerate the expressed milk, or knows she is placing an additional burden on her non-nursing co-workers, she'll change to a bottle pretty quickly.  Many employers make it clear they regard a nursing mother as a nuisance, particularly in lower-paid service jobs.

Instead of lecturing and intimidating women, nurses and midwives need to be supportive no matter what the mother's choice.  It isn't an issue of success or failure.  For me that has always been the bottom line. No mother really wants to be a "bad" mother; it isn't a clearcut issue.  If a woman tells me she is undecided, I may try to sway her toward giving nursing a chance, but if she has objections to the whole business, I'm not going to push it.  She will fail, unless the incentive comes from her.  It's not my place to lay an unjustified guilt trip on her.

Hebrew for Dummies, Introduction Part 2: the Aleph-Bet

The Hebrew alphabet consists of 22 letters, all consonants.  It lacks some sounds in English, and to be confusing*, several letters have the [apparent] same sound.  Moreover, several letters have a different form which is used only when that letter is the last in a word.  Several letters also change their sound -- when written with vocalization [vowels], this is represented by a dot [dagesh] in the letter.  In "everday" usage, the letter isn't written with this dot, but is understood.  In the next installment, when I discuss the origins of Hebrew and how it differs from Indo-European languages, this will become clearer [I hope].

When I was a child, my father taught me a simple substitution code that I could use for writing secrets to my girlfriends.  It worked like this: first, make 3 tic-tak-toe grids.  Above the second, put a dot.  Above the third, put an X. Then fill in the grids with the ABC, so:

The "code" consisted of using the shape of the box the letter was in, so:

Think of the Hebrew alphabet as a kind of code; don't look for correspondences with the Latin alphabet [btw, the Cyrillic Russian alphabet actually borrowed some Hebrew letters directly]  Lots of Hebrew texts like to begin with suggesting that you remember that an aleph was originally the sign for the horn of an ox, or something like that. [My father, noting the stylized aleph Egged uses on its buses, said it looked like and X, and he then thought it must sound like X, which it doesn't]  Forget all that crap.  Aleph [א ]has no sound; it holds an empty place for a vowel sound.  Ayin [ע], OTOH, does, but it is very difficult for Ashkenazim to pronounce [although they can hear it].  It is a deep gutteral sound rather as if you are intending to retch.  Mizrachim are amused at this inability -- even after 35 years my tomatoes [agvaniyot with an ayin] sound like my airplanes [avironim with an aleph] and I consistently misspell words like tomato.  [Mizrachim confuse aleph with heh, but we'll get to that].  The distinction between aleph and ayin is important, however, as we'll see.

Bet and vet -- the former with a dot, the latter without, are the same letter, which is why a rav can be a rabbi ["my rav" literally].  Slight vowel changes make it a rebbe.  We'll get to that, too.  There is another letter with a "v" sound: vav.  They aren't interchangeable.

Gimel is a hard "g".  Easy enough. Except that there isn't any "j" [like in "jury"] in Hebrew, and it is needed when transliterating and for some loan words.  The solution has been to use "gimel-apostrophe" ['ג ], not to be confused with a tzadi-apostrophe, which does duty as an English "ch".  The apostrophe can also be confused with a yod, unfortunately [י]

Daled takes the sound of "d".  No ambiguity there.

Heh can be either an "h" sound or silent if at the end of a word.  For some reason, Mizrachim have trouble vocalizing heh at the beginning of a word, and husband Yitzhak, who laughes at my agvaniot, writes "halacha" as "alacha" with an aleph.  An Israeli boyfriend in New York liked to tell me "is 'ot" in the summer.  At the time, I found that very surprising, since the syllable "ha" at the beginning of a word is the definite article "the", so obviously Israelis can pronounce it.

Vav is, as I noted above, "v".  But, when written with a dot next to it, it is the vowel "oo"; with a dot above it, the vowel "oh", and isn't part of the root of the word.  It is only part of the root when used as a consonant.  You'll see what I mean when we get to roots.  Also, since Hebrew has no W, two vavs [without any dots anywhere] have come to substitute for a W [double "oo", you see]

Het, or chet, [ח] is one of two letters that Scots and Germans can pronounce easily; it is the "ch" of "loch", but can be a trial for the unpracticed English tongue.  The other is "chaf" [כ] without a dot, but they actually have slightly different sounds.  You will notice the difference particularly if you hear a Yemenite pronounce them, but for all intents and purposes, Ashkenazim pronounce them identically.  They aren't interchangeable, however.  When het is at the end of a word, it is pronounced "ach", as in "patuach!" ["It's open!" -- פתוח]

OK, by now your brain is spinning, so let's leave it for today.  We've got a long way to go, still.

*Vet-vav, tet-taf, kaf-koof, peh-feh, sin-samech.  But they ARE different from one another, as we will see.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Chuck Asay
Creators Syndicate Inc.
Aug 3, 2012

Hebrew for Dummies: Introduction, Part I

Most folks trying to learn Hebrew for the first time are utterly baffled and bewildered by it.  It runs the wrong way, right to left, instead of vice versa.  It uses a different alphabet, with some sounds repeated, some sounds interchangeable, and some omitted.  You can write it with vowels or without [no Israeli needs vowels by 4th grade, incomprehensible as that seems].

Over the years, I've developed some of the things I've learned into several essays that make Hebrew a bit more accessible for those raised on a language which derives from Latin and the Romance languages [Indo-European base], and Germanic tongues.  Hopefully, this can make learning to read, and speak, Hebrew a bit easier.

With my usual lack of consistency, Heaven only knows when I will have the time or the will to discourse on this topic, so don't be distressed at either the frequency of posts or the lack thereof.  Fortunately, for the beginner, modern Hebrew has not had time to become markedly irregular, and the vocabulary one needs for davvening [apart from reading Tehillim, which has many words not found elsewhere in Tanach] is fairly limited.  Moreover, Hebrew is read phonetically [in spite of the "no vowels" business"]; the wild aberrations of English spelling [which we don't even notice, being so used to it] nowhere appear in Hebrew, and as a result, loan words from other languages can easily be inserted in Hebrew.  However, the language remains pure enough that Tanach seems no distant than Shakespearean English does to us; King David could show up tomorrow and he'd understand me, although he would undoubtedly think I spoke a bit oddly.  He'd have a tougher time with the Ashkenazi pronounciation, and he'd probably think the Lithuanian style unintelligible [it's largely unintelligible to any but Litvaks anyway, which may be why they use it]

Two books which I recommend highly are "How The Hebrew Language Grew" and "501 Hebrew Verbs".  Also, to get you started, once you have the Aleph-Bet conquered, a dry-erase board with both dry-erase markers AND permanent markers will be of use.

Next: the Aleph-Bet
Coming soon to a blog near you

Thursday, August 02, 2012

The Fifty Shades of Black

Friar Yid, in a comment to his most recent blog post, asks me "How do you personally differentiate Haredim from Modern Orthodox? I feel like it may be easier to make that distinction in Israel vs. the Diaspora, but I'm interested in your take."

The titles tend to be different between Israel and Chu"l, but the substance tends to be the same.  [Some years ago, on the Tachlis list to which I belong, which is dedicated to practical advice for potential and new olim, someone wrote a hilarious "How To Identify the Different Kinds of Religious Jews" by their dress. Does the woman cover her hair with a scarf? Colored or black?  Does she even have hair? With a turban -- which style of turban? Wears a hat? Wears a wig? Wears a wig and a hat?  What style of wig?  Do her sleeves go to the elbow or to the wrist?  Does she wear stockings in summer? Transparent? Black? Length of skirt?  Hippy or tailored or just dumpy?]

And so on.  Israelis feel a lot more comfortable if they can safely categorize people by appearance.  We do have categories which US Jews don't have, such as "chardal" [which also means "mustard"], an acronym for "national [c]haredi-dati" for example, Israelis whose level of observance is haredi, but they support the State of Israel and usually serve in the army via the hesder yeshivot, which is 5, not 3, years of IDF service combined with yeshiva study.  Many come from the Yehuda and Shomron.

There are sub-categories. Within the "crocheted kippa" group there are those with beards and payot, and those without, there are varying degrees of "black", i.e. men who wear the standard outfit of white shirt, black slacks, and small black velvet kippa, but who eschew the streimel and capote or frock coat.  There are those with short payot tucked behind their ears, or immensely long ones that must require curling tongs to keep their bounce. Some have beards, some do not, some only begin to grow a beard after a certain age, some will trim them and some won't.  And, incidentally, there are lots of Israeli men who wear a crocheted kippa and aren't even strictly Orthodox.  This is particularly true of Mizrachi men, who tend toward the conservative side of traditionalism, but are not about to forego attending games of their favorite soccer club on Shabbatot.

But beyond the matters of dress and appearance is a fairly substantial philosophical divide.  Although they tend to gloss over the doctrinal differences these days, the ultra-Orthodox are roughly divided into the Hassidim and their opponents.  The Hassidim cannot tolerate dissonance of any kind, it frightens them just as the modern world frightens them, so that all their women will wear the same style of clothes, the same style of head covering, and the men are nearly indistinguishable from one another in the same Hassidic court.

The range is much wider in the Mitnagid world.  If a Hassid is living in the 18th century, in general the Mitnagdim are in the 19th or early 20th.  Some are even more modern.  It is a lot like the range seen in Conservative congregations, where some davven abridged services almost entirely in English while in other synagogues the only real difference between them and the standard Orthodox shul is the lack of a mechitza.

When I think of "modern Orthodoxy" I think of the Lincoln Square Synagogue in New York, back in the days when R. Stephen Riskin was the rav -- before he moved, with a large number of his congregants, to Efrat and became R. Shlomo Riskin.  Meet them on the street, and perhaps you'd notice a discreet kippa, and that the women seemed discreetly, but fashionably dressed. If a wig is worn it is stylish and looks "real".  The Jewishness was entirely k'halacha, but not flaunted. Not like Monsey, or New Square, where the men are in distinctive haredi dress, and travel to their jobs in the Manhattan Jewelry Exchange on W. 46th St in rented men-only buses fitted out inside for davvening.  A modern Orthodox man wouldn't have a problem with the subway, and indeed might even only pull his kippa out of his pocket when making a beracha before eating, depending on the kind of business he was in. If he wears arba kanfot, they are tucked inside his trousers, not outside his shirt, flapping in the wind. In fact, he probably wears the undershirt variety which doesn't ruck up.  They can coexist with TV and the internet, but usually closely supervise what access their kids have to it, ditto movies, and on weekdays the number of hours spent in front of a screen is much less than their secular counterparts.  IPods and iPhones are great for listening to religious shiurim while commuting, and many men will go to a daf yomi group in the evenings after work, or spend Saturdays, when not in shul, studying.  While haredim are still big-time advocates of arranged marriages, the modern Orthodox are not, but the dating scene is much more sedate than the secular variety.  And here we go back to the philosophy of why one should want to live a Torah-observant life: in order to raise the next generation of good Jews. Haredi women, depending on the community, get minimal religious education [some groups even think that Talmud is wasted on women] but are indoctrinated with the importance of creating and maintaining the Good Jewish Home, definitely a full-time vocation, while others become teachers and nurses and even doctors [which must be immensely difficult to balance with a home life]  Modern Orthodox women in the US are encouraged to go to college, although they too would give priority to domestic issues.  When looking for a husband, they are educated to look more for the qualities that make a good Jew than a highly successful man of the world.  Many young couples get partial support from parents for a period of years so that the husband can continue studying full time at a yeshiva until he's got several children, but ultimately he goes to work [in the haredi world in Israel, a huge number of men never do go to work --ever. The haredi population of the US, like the modern Orthodox, almost all do. It is relatively rare for a US man to be a perpetual student supported by his wife]

So here we are, back at the original question, what differentiates haredi from "merely" Orthodox.  There isn't a, you should forgive the expression, a black and white contrast.  To me, it depends on one's outlook more than the way one dresses, if one is trying to live in a Jewishly distinctive manner, according to how strict or how liberal an interpretation of the basic halacha one can accept.

It's quite true that there is a movement which actively looks for humrot [stringencies]. [My personal view is to look for leniencies.  For example, in the matter of how long to wait between meat and milk, I am Dutch. Their nusach is to wait one whole hour.  The main point here is to keep a distinction between the two types of food]  I think this is a response to the lure of, and fear of, assimilation.  R. Mordechai Kaplan is supposed to have said that while Jews and Judaism managed to come to grips with the destruction of both Temples, especially the Second, through the Sages of Yavneh and the generations which followed and created the Talmud, Jewry has not yet been able to cope with the Enlightenment and the Holocaust.  It is so much easier not to be Jewish, when the world allows you to drop the burden of your identity.  Assimilation destroys us in ways oppression does not.  The ultra-Orthodox have circled the wagons;they have reacted to history by fossilization, while the modern Orthodox are less intimidated by the challenges of maintaining identity in a fluid environment. They see Judaism as a vibrant, growing vine, true to its roots while sending out new foliage. The haredim, in the last analysis, are far more insecure than the mainstream Orthodox.

Friar Yid lives in San Francisco and claims he can't find the sort of Jews I've described as "mainstream Orthodox". I'm sure they're out there somewhere.You just don't notice them so easily because they look "just like folks", while the haredim are immediately recognizable.   He and his wife feel that Orthodoxy is misogynistic.  Up to a point, it is, I suppose, and in the haredi world the tendency is stronger. One has to remember that the Biblical and Talmudic codes were advanced for their time but now, in how they regard women at least, are not.  [Let's remember just how long ago women got the vote, and had control of their own property, and divorce did not require, in the UK, an Act of Parliament before we discuss how antiquated Judaism is to women]   But the question remains whether the women so "oppressed" find the system oppressive. The ones I know seem fulfilled and quite content.  I confess that I've never wanted to be a rabbi [rabbit? ravit?].  I'm traditionalist enough to be quite happy letting the men do their thing.  I'm sufficiently knowledgeable to do my own praying and studying, thank you [made a lot easier by the plethora of books out there; I'm saving for the Steinsaltz Masechet Berachot].  I don't need to be called to the Torah, or to lay tefillin.  Being different from my husband does not inevitably imply being inferior.  I don't feel demeaned by running my home, although I do feel demeaned when my husband can't be bothered to put his dirty clothes in the laundry basket and throws his bathtowels on the floor rather than replacing them on the rack, and I think serious research should be done about the apparent genetic defect on the Y chromosome that makes men incapable of putting down the toilet seat. You may not think this is a religious issue, but it is. Numerous rabbis have gone on record as saying that the men should lighten their wives' household burdens when they can.  But I suspect this is one of those things that will have to wait until Moshiach comes, may it be speedily and in our days, amen.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Steve Greenberg
Freelance, Los Angeles
Jul 28, 2012

The Olympics

Well, I've got to post something, I guess.

I would like to write that I'm indifferent to the Olympics, but I'm not.  I loathe the games.  For one thing, I cannot, for the life of me, see why running faster, or jumping higher, or swimming more synchronizedly [new word] than anyone else is a positive value, what it contributes toward civilization.  For another, it's not about individual athletes any more, it is about national politics and money.

The opening ceremony extravaganza was nicely done this time -- if you were a Brit or knew a bit about British history -- I had to explain a lot to my daughter and son-in-law because a considerable amount of the allusions went right over their heads.  The sketches with Donald Craig, the Queen, and Rowan Atkinson showed British humor to its best advantage [although the Queen in reality was reported to be rather bored, or at least, looked bored at the ceremony itself]

Today I wound up being forced to see about an hour of the men's athletics; daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter came to visit, and of course my husband wanted to see it.  Yawn and double yawn.  I really hope that I can manage to avoid the rest.  Good thing I have three new audiobooks to listen to -- it's only a coincidence that they are by John le Carre .

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

News Flashes

Rabbi Elyashiv, the reactionary Lithuanian rabbi who has been attempting all his life to go forward to the 18th century [or maybe the 17th], and who is considered one of the Torah Sages of this generation, at least by his followers, has died today in an Israeli hospital at the age of 102.

Seven Israelis have been killed, and many more wounded, in a suicide bombing of an airport transport bus in Borgas, Bulgaria.

There must be a connection there somewhere...if not, there ought to be some sort of moral that can be derived from the proximity of the two incidents.  Must think about this.

Bits and Bobs

Today, I feel glum.

Israel had a major chance to resolve one of the major inequalities in our country, and the government blew it. I refer, of course, to the scandalous situation regarding universal conscription [which is the law] for everyone -- unless you are haredi or Arab. I won't rehash the arguments, especially about the problem of Arabs and security. I have no problem with national service via Sherut Leumi; heavens knows the infrastructure of many Arab communities needs a lot of upgrading; Israeli Arabs could work in their own towns and villages. Since there are a number of mitzvot such as bikur holim that yeshiva boys could perform, while still studying part-time, there's no reason they don't serve, either.

Except, of course, that they are perfectly happy being parasites.  The time is long overdue for that to end, forcibly if necessary. They claim to study Torah, but they obviously don't know what's written in Devarim 20: 5-8, nor do they know that no less a sage than Maimonides decreed that any war in the Land is a milchemet mitzvah and therefore there are no exemptions except those in the Torah.


Over on Friar Yid's blog, there has been a spirited discussion of the direction and future for liberal Judaism, as well as his continued search for a form of Judaism he feels comfortable practicing.  There are moments when I wish I was in San Francisco and could sit down, face to face, with FY; other moments when I wish he'd come on a lengthy visit to Israel and I could "mentor" him.  Ah, the Yiddishe Momma in me!

Several things have occurred to me while participating in this debate.  One is just how far non-Orthodox American Judaism is drifting from authentic mainstream [not extreme or haredi] Orthodoxy.  All sorts of newnesses are promoted without reference to the age-old usages and customs.  Up to a point, this is common in the immigrant experience: the first generation feels that those who left the Old Country are primitive, Asiatic, blinkered, whereas they are free to make choices that were denied to their parents -- one of those choices being abandoning practices viewed as isolationist or limiting [such as keeping kosher, or davenning three times a day].  This isn't, incidentally, an American phenomenon -- first generation sabras, especially the Mizrachi ones, have much the same attitude, even if they don't carry it to such extremes as American Jews do.  They aren't about to rewrite halacha; they just don't keep much of it most of the time.  The second generation usually wants some reuniting with their roots, but are often so far removed that they wind up floundering around trying to reconstruct a lifestyle that is very alien to them [Fiddler on the Roof Syndrome].  They usually don't see that those who never abandoned the tradition have developed the means to live successfully in the modern world with it without going to absurd lengths to "revive" antique practices.

Another aspect is the dearth of  Jewish education in young American Jews.  No one can be expected to "connect" with something about which he or she is basically ignorant.  A person doesn't even know the questions to ask, and the resources out there are not very good.  For some reason, a lot of young American Jews reject any connection with the Orthodox [what do they think?  That the Orthodox will kidnap them and force them to become frum?], thereby missing out on basic source materials of Judaism, such as Talmud study, or even learning enough Hebrew to find one's way around a siddur.  If a Reform synagogue [somehow, the word "shul" doesn't seem appropriate for a "Temple"] has an adult education program at all, it often presents normative Judaism as some sort of antique fossil that can be dispensed with in modern life.  My mother once called me to tell me about this wonderful new custom she'd just learned about at her Reform Temple, called "havdalah".  Not one of her classmates ever actually made havdalah; it was studied as if it were some sort of anachronism.  She was amazed that I knew about it; that we actually performed it.  I sort of wish there was a kind of Birthright program that gave free education to American Jewish kids in their teens; the free trips to Israel have been very successful in encouraging both connection to Israel and connection to being Jewish among the participants.

Finally, I am impressed, in a negative sense, with the inconsistency of what passes for Judaism in the US.  FY wants to begin keeping a kosher-style house [he's not actually kashering the kitchen, and I don't know the extent of his knowledge of the laws of kashrut; I suspect it's not very great], but he's married to a non-Jew.  Judging by his description, both he and his wife have adopted a style of dress that "looks Jewish" [not sure what that means], yet I don't know whether he lays tefillin or not, or whether his apartment has properly constituted and installed mezuzot on the doors.  It is almost as if they are adopting a role, rather than becoming.  It is "as if".  But I may be doing FY an injustice -- that's one of the reasons I'd like to meet him.

I know other Jews who have devoted considerable time to inventing new rituals while ignoring existing ones, in the name of political correctness and "modernism".  It baffles me.  I know Jews who have chosen to reject direct, Torah mi-Sinai, commandments or attempt to weasel around them with ingenious explanations that have no basis in traditional Jewish thought, and are then annoyed when traditionalist Jews don't accept them.  The prohibition on male homosexuality is one of these.  Like it or not like it; observe it or don't observe it --it's there in the Torah and it's explicit.  The view, put forward by some homosexuals who want to be able to have their cake and eat it, is that the Torah refers only to acts, so a celibate homosexual is not transgressing a commandment doesn't wash.  And given what the Torah has to say about homosexuality, a "gay" rabbi is more of an absurdity than even a female one.  It would be like a Catholic priest who defines the Trinity as Allah, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and maintains he isn't in error because "both God the Father and Allah are monotheistic Gods". [Benedict the XVI would love that, I'm sure]


There's been a long gap in postings over the past few months because my life has been at sixes and sevens, not for lack of topics to write about.  The hip replacement, my decision to retire, the consequent entire re-organizing of my life, my granddaughter [who's here most days] and the [finally!] move of the other daughter to her new home near Rosh Pina, has meant that just when I sit down to pen some deep insight, I get called away or the phone rings.  And my memory isn't what it used to be.  Hopefully, this will change and I'll write more -- but I've made this promise before.

Right now, life is reasonably quiet.  It is broiling hot outside; I stay in my air-conditioned bedroom, which is where the computer is [an added incentive to blogging].  Number 1 son will probably visit in September; I'll be taking care of the granddaughter every day for most of August since her childcare goes on vacation. September this year contains all the Jewish holidays, and youngest daughter, with husband and child, will be moving into their new home around the beginning of October.  Husband and I are going on a cruise at the beginning of November, and after that, I will probably have to accompany my granddaughter and her mother to the US since I'm sponsoring the granddaughter for US citizenship and the ceremony absolutely must take place in the US; cannot be done at either the US consulate here in Jerusalem or at the Embassy in Tel Aviv.  So, life is anything but dull, without even going into US Presidential election matters.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Mike Smith
Las Vegas Sun
Jun 3, 2012

Long Time, No Write

Sorry I've been out of circulation for a while [a while? an epoch!] Very busy with grandchild, housewarming for The Curly Haired Monster, my arthritic hip. By way of apology, please enjoy this cartoon, and I promise to begin writing again anon.
Randy Bish
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Jun 3, 2012

Monday, March 05, 2012


Every day, in far too many ways, it's looking like the period when Hitler demanded Germany's "rights" in Czechoslovakia, and the West caved in, believing this would satisfy him.

Now it is Iran, and the threat to Israel. But just as Hitler never intended to stop after gobbling up Czechoslovakia, Ahmadinejad and the ayatollahs regard Israel really as a pimple on the backside of the West. Their aim is altogether bigger: dominance of the Islamic world, and then dominance of the West. They are committed to jihad in its truest sense--the conversion of the Infidel to Islam, and the purification of Islam [that is, the Shi'a form of it]. Iran hates Israel, would love to be able to exterminate it, will use it as a hostage -- but you don't need missiles which can reach the US to annihilate Israel. Iran has much larger plans.

In Obama's speech to AIPAC he said all the right things, but we know that so far, his words have never been matched with action. Apparently he feels he cannot move until Iran actually announces that it has the Bomb and begins threatening everyone with it. He also misses the main point. When bragging about all his assistance to Israel [which made me faintly nauseated] he mentioned the Iron Dome system which has prevented rockets from hitting Israeli cities, but he never mentioned what he has done to prevent those rockets from being launched, because the US has done exactly zilch -- or worse than zilch, with the "1967 borders" gaffe -- to make the Palestinians understand that the US will not tolerate unprovoked attacks on an ally. Every time I see Obama these days I think of Chamberlain, and how the British breathed a huge sigh of relief when he returned from Munich. England would have been spared the Blitz if only Chamberlain had said "No, Herr Hitler, you move into Czechoslovakia and we regard ourselves in a state of war with Germany".

Teddy Roosevelt said "Speak softly and carry a big stick". Obama speaks stridently but carries no stick at all. One can only hope that American Jews aren't taken in by this "charm offensive". So far Obama can talk about his friendship with Israel, but his actions betray his words, and unfortunately, just as he "led from behind" in Libya, I think that on some level he wants Israel to do the US's dirty work in Iran --and suffer the inevitable consequences. That would rid him of two problems: Iran and Israel.