Sunday, March 20, 2011

Where's Kakihito?

Shushan News Service 14 Adar Bet 5771

"Where's Kakihito?" That's the question throughout Japan in the wake of the devastating earthquake, tsunami and reactor blowup that left Japan looking like the atom bomb hit it. Thousands of Japs protested at the Imperial Palace, incensed that their Divine Emperor sits in his comfy palace while his countrymen suffer as they never suffered since the war his daddy started. "It's been a week and still no Kaki. Haven't they got milk of magnesia in the joint?", asked one protester. After several hours the court spokesman came out with a bullhorn, explaining that there were no functioning toilets in the flattened parts of the country, and it would not become His Imperial Majesty's exalted station to crouch in the bushes to do his business. Besides, the spokesman said, bushes have been out of fashion since 2009. A protester bellowed back, "Obama bin Laden must be behind all this. His name is Barak, right? And all this shit hit us like lightning." The spokesman assured the crowd that the country's best engineers were working on the problem and the Divine Kakihito would soon come out.

Unknown to the crowd, Emperor Kakihito had been whisked from the palace through secret tunnels and flown by helicopter to Fukushima, site of a crippled atomic reactor. Persian engineers rigged up a royal deluxe portapotty, with every amenity imaginable, and pronounced it fit for a Shah. No sooner did the Emperor set foot on the tarmac than a commotion arose from the disheveled crowd. "Shah! Shtill! What's all the hullaballoo about?", exclaimed the chief engineer. An official pointed him to where a group of female volunteers was gathered. Signs identified them as "JAPS OF BORO PARK," and everybody was shouting with amazement at their clothing, haridos and jewelry. "Look at that dress she has on," gushed one women, herself dressed in whatever shmattas she could grab as the tsunami hit. "I have a yen for a dress like that." "Fuggedabboudit," said the lady next to her. "Something like that has got to cost more yen than you'll see in a lifetime." After the soldiers calmed the crowd, the Emperor began to address the throng. "We've been through worse before," Kakihito proclaimed. "We Japs are tough, and we'll get through this stronger than ever. But for a while we will have to endure the unendurable -" and he clutched his stomach and made a beeline for the Persian portapotty. Noises from inside caused worry among the crowd, with some speculating that the radiation caused a tsunami in the elderly Emperor's kishkes. A little boy picked up a handful of shitkake mushrooms and threw it at the portapotty, excitedly shouting, "aki-kake, aki-kake." One of the soldiers whipped out a samurai sword and, with bloodcurdling shouts of "Kamikaze! Banzai!" ran up, skewered the boy and, swinging him over his head like a chicken, called out "Thus shall be done to the one who delights to dishonor the Divine Emperor." The volunteers from Boro Park were heard saying to one another, "Yom k'Purim, Yom k'Purim." Soon everybody joined them in what they thought was a prayer for the Emperor's recovery.

V'nahafokh hu. . .

Late-breaking news from Shushan News Service - This sign went up all over New York City's showpiece Central Park. Evidently some putz on a computer did not know that Hebrew and Yiddish are read from right to left, and got the words for rabies, a fatal disease spread by mad dogs, backwards.


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Amalek Comes to Itamar

Last Shabbat at Itamar, a Jewish settlement near Shekhem (aka Nablus), there took place a horrific, stomach-turning multiple murder, particularly brutal even by Arab standards. Arabs burst into the Fogel family home at night and stabbed three children, the youngest only three months old, and their parents as they slept. One child was stabbed through the heart; another had his throat slashed. A daughter who was outside at the time returned home to the bloody scene. The perpetrators escaped and, as of this writing, are still at large. The Fogel family released several pictures of the bodies so that we could grasp the true horror of the deed.


As always, the mainstream media are babbling about a "cycle of violence," "illegal settlements" and such. I don't recall Israelis ever sneaking into an Arab village and murdering little children in cold blood, but for Arabs it's their stock in trade. The question now is: Where do we go from here? The counsels of surrender would tell us that the Fogels, and all the other halutzim (the only ones left!) would have been safer behind the Green Line. And their forebears would have been safer going to America instead of Eretz Yisrael, which the Gentiles preferred to call Palestine. And the Jews would have been safer staying in Egypt than traversing the wilderness and then taking on seven hostile nations (six if the Girgashi left on their own) to claim their patrimony. As if the territory behind the Green Line was ever safe from terrorist attack - anybody remember the seder in Natanya, Sbarros, the Dolphinarium, ad infinitum ad nauseam? As if Israel was safe when there were no "occupied territories." Israelis woke up on June 5, 1967 and decided to go to war for the fun of it - right?

This Shabbat is Shabbat Zakhor, when we remember the cowardly attack of Amalek on the Jews coming out of Egypt. They were not after booty in the manner of all Bedouin tribes; the booty would have been up front, well guarded. They went after the weak and the tired in the rear. Their motive was hate, and their objective was simply to kill Jews. Today's Arabs are Amalek's ideological descendants. They hate us simply because we are Jews, and - Kahane was right - they will not accept an Israel of any shape or size. Remember that - and remember what Rav Zvi Yehuda Kook taught us about the Green Line. It has no halakhic significance. Eretz Yisrael was deeded to us by God and we dare not surrender a square centimeter of it once it comes into our possession. What's more - the Green Line has no legal significance either. It was never a border, only a concatenation of armistice lines. Once the armistice was broken in 1967, the lines became null and void, with the possible exception of the one with Lebanon.

Zakhor. If we leave out the vav of the holam, it can be read zakhar, male. As the Torah predicted, in the exile we had our manhood sucked out of us. We ran from our enemies, but they always caught up with us. We were a people bereft of strength and courage. We are back on our own land now. The ge'ula is already in progress. We are reclaiming our manhood with a holy vengeance. We can hold on to Itamar, and all the Itamars already on the ground, and all that will spring up in the future - and we will. The residents of Itamar already gave us - and our enemies - their answer. They celebrated a wedding yesterday, as if the attack had not taken place. And they celebrated it in Shekhem, at the tomb of Yosef (Josh 24:32), with special permission of the army, since the tomb of Yosef was closed to Jews since the second intifada. Shekhem means "shoulder" - symbol of manly strength. Several years ago I took my strong shoulders to Yerushalayim's Sha'ar Shekhem, stopped at the Young Israel synagogue, and continued on the straight path to the kotel. Before I'm a lot older, please God, I hope to take those broad shoulders of mine to the real Shekhem.

Itamar residents celebrate their wedding in Shekhem

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Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Taking Yes for an Answer

You must not call conspiracy all that that people call conspiracy. . . .(Isaiah 8:12)

We are now witnessing a phenomenon the like of which has not been seen since the Soviet satellites of Eastern Europe collapsed like a row of dominos in 1989 (one journalist called it "the domino theory in reverse"). It started with one person in Tunisia setting himself on fire to protest that country's corrupt and tyrannical government, and spread like wildfire throughout the Middle East. Millions took to the streets in Egypt and toppled Hosni Mubarak, who had been in power for some 30 years. Mass unrest in Yemen, Jordan and Bahrain forced their despots to institute some sort of democratic reform. Right now the focal point is Libya, where the Egyptian model is playing itself out. Crowds of people fearlessy fill the streets in Libya's cities demanding the ouster of their brutal dictator Muammar Qaddafi, who ruled with an iron fist since 1969. This is the same Qaddafi who was behind the massacre of eleven Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics and the mid-air bombing of a jet over Scotland, killing 270 people. I remember participating in demonstrations in the days following the Munich catastrophe (I was in college then) and chanting "Who do we want? Qaddafi! How do we want him? Dead!". Well, if the brave young people of Libya have their way, we just might have him dead before too long. Maybe he will be hanged on Purim. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

But in Israel and throughout the Jewish world, consternation bordering on hysteria reigns. The "Arab street" is a force to be reckoned with. Newly free Arabs will abrogate treaties with Israel that the deposed despots abided by - never mind that only two Arab countries, Egypt and Jordan, have such treaties and they have hardly led to the kind of relations that exist between the United States and Canada. Some of the demonstrators in Cairo and Benghazi were seen holding up signs denouncing Israel - after decades of brainwashing by tyrants who totally controlled the flow of information, what can we expect?

Like a good scientist, I am skeptical. I do not believe in "democracy for me but not for thee." All men desire freedom. Democracy can be messy, cumbersome, fractious and slow; a task as simple as refurbishing a public monument can take years to accomplish, while a dictator will get it done immediately. Democracy is, as Winston Churchill said, the worst system on earth except for all the others. So I am pleased to see the Arabs seizing control of their own destiny. It was the slew of dictatorial, corrupt and rotten regimes that deflected the resentment and frustrations of their own peoples onto the eternal scapegoat, Israel. If all goes well, Arabs will prefer to make their own lives better instead of making those of Israelis worse. History shows us that dictatorships start wars with other dictatorships and with democracies, but democracies rarely if ever start wars with other democracies. We might be on the cusp of a new era of peace between Abraham's children. With the Arabs' oil and the Israelis' brains, miracles can be accomplished.

And what if all does not go well? What if the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and similar Islamist outfits in other Arab countries, the best organized of the underground political groups now coming out of hiding, take over? The result will be a tyranny as bad or worse than the one the masses are shucking off, which itself argues for those outfits not being allowed to rule, at least not without building coalitions with more responsible parties. A triumphant Islamist revolution will stir up hatred against Israel, but we can live with it, as we did for 62 years. They are unlikely to commit to a war that they must know they cannot win. They are mostly Sunni Muslims who, unlike the Shiites who rule Iran, do not have a martyr complex. Like the Communists, they want to live and it might be possible to do business with them. As always, while hoping and praying for the best, Israel must prepare for the worst. We have fought wars against all of our neighbors simultaneously before; another chant from the '70s went, "48, 56, 67, you lose." We will have to beef up our border defenses. With more resources going to defense, there will be less for corruption and political favoritism; we can live with that. With more manpower needed for the army, we will no longer be able to support the armies of able-bodied parasites sitting on their butts in yeshiva, not serving in the real army, not working (at least not honestly) and not paying taxes. We will return to the ethic that prevailed in the early years of the state: Every able-bodied male serves, no ands ifs or buts. Nothing but good can come of that.

Israel has been around for 62 years now, going on 63. The founders have gone to their eternal reward and their dream, praise God, is our reality. But too many of us, including those who run Israel's government, still think like miserable ghetto Jews. In keeping with Lev. 26:35, they hear the sound of a windblown leaf and flee as if from an enemy, but nobody is chasing. Then they close the book, before they get to v.42, assuring us that God has not forsaken us, that he remembers his everlasting covenant with Abraham, that he will restore us to our natural state, masters in our own house. Take a look around, people. Tanakh's prophecies of redemption are being fulfilled. The barren land is fertile. Jews from all over the world, from India to Ethiopia and beyond, are gathered home. The economy is thriving. The ge'ula is already in progress, unfolding before our eyes. We just have to learn to take yes for an answer from the only One whose pronouncements really matter.

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