The Sunken Synagogue
pa vezer o vageal e kreiz e klever a-wechoù un trouz iskis:
kleier ur sinagogenn a zo o seniñ dindan ar mor...

Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Beneath the Planet of the Iranians

Dancers perform as they hold capsules of uranium hexaflouride, or UF6 gas during a ceremony in Mashhad, Iran’s holiest city.

In many respects, Iran is a great place. Really. It has beautiful landscapes, incredible architecture, ancient monuments and desert cities built with ingenious cooling systems and water carriers, a refined cuisine that's simultaneously earthy and ethereal, languages that are aesthetically pleasing and linguistically intriguing.

And then there are things like the nuclear bomb cult, evidenced in the photograph above from the Jerusalem Post. Iran is not the first country to pursue The Bomb, nor will it be the last. But the glorification, feverish dictatorial rhetoric, religious associations, and utter confusion of good and evil (note the backdrop of doves) surely put this nation in a class by itself. Or maybe not?

This picture is from the visionary film Beneath the Planet of the Apes, the first and the worst of four bad sequels to Planet of the Apes. In it, a man on a rescue mission arrives on the earth two thousand years in the future, and finds a mutant race of deformed humans, survivors of a nuclear war, living underground where New York City once lay. And what do these people do when not abusing our protagonists and warring with talking apes? They sing to and worship ... a nuclear bomb. You can guess what happens by the end of the movie. Now look at the picture up top again.

I don't see much difference. Do you?

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Monday, May 22, 2006
Dressing Iran up and down

The supposed new Iranian dress code was a good story while it lasted. Yellow stripes for Jews, red ones for Christians, and blue for Zoroastrians, all with the noble goal of helping Muslims to avoid touching the Other and thereby getting cooties becoming unclean. While the obvious intellectual question of how distinguishing between different types of infidels was relevant for that end was raised by no one, anyone with a moral filling in their bottom-left bicuspid had a golden chance to show it off, and so a wave of furious denunciations swept across the net, complete with ominous images of pre-Holocaust "Jude" badges for comparison.

Anyone who's reading this has probably heard by now that the truth was not quite so spectacular (unless we're being played with again, of course). With hat tips to Mystical Paths and Kamangir, here's a translation from Zharf of what the legislation is really about:

1) Encouraging fabric designers and producers in using Iranian and Islamic patterns and styles in producing fabric and dress.
2) Respecting the traditional patterns and lively symbols of Iranian ethnic groups and paying attention to proper body coverage based on Islamic Sharia.
3) Taking advantage of research in obtaining original(to Iran) fabric patterns.
4) Encouraging the public in using the Iranian styles.
5) Supporting local producers of traditional clothes with loans and providing them exposure in clothes fairs and festivals.
6) Helping the public access to traditional clothes by establishing permanent dress fairs on local and regional bases.
7) Organizing regional (international) dress fair for exchanging experiences with other Muslim countries.
8) Inspecting and Controlling the imports of fabric and clothes to prevent the import of clothes incompatible with cultural, Islamic and national values.
9) This draft is written with coordination with the managing body in charge of clothing and dress.
10) Financial support for NGOs, unions, and non-governmental institutions in providing national clothing.
11) Media, in special the national TV, must help in establishing the usage of national clothing and they have to avoid advertising styles inconsistent with our culture.

Funny thing is, if it were a little less totalitarian, I'd say it was almost admirable. Sticking to one's own traditions instead of blindly emulating the practices of other societies is a value that Judaism espouses too ... sort of ... I mean ... except when it comes to clothes, music, food, language ... and I'd better stop before this list gets too long. Well, there are a few people at Beged Ivri who have tried to (re-)create some real Jewish clothing, but if someone caught you wearing one of their tunics or tallithoth you'd probably be arrested it hasn't quite caught on yet. We still see haredim dressing like antiquated Europeans, modern orthodox like respectable Americans, and settlers like unrespectable Americans hippies. Looking on the bright side though, we have succeeded at implementing our own minority dress codes, even without government intervention! If the Iranians could hold off from scorching us, perhaps we could teach them a thing or two.

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Olmert? We don't want any....

That's it. I'm just taking advantage of the fact that I'm still in America and I can still say this. Take your slimy ethnic cleansing plans and multi-billion-dollar grant requests and get out of my country!

Arutz Sheva posted the following:

Olmert Lands in Washington on His First Visit
05:43 May 22, '06 / 24 Iyar 5766

( Prime Minister Ehud Olmert during the night landed in Washington, D.C. for his first official visit to the United States since entering office.

During the visit, Olmert is expected to meet with President George W. Bush, Secretary of State Dr. Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld. He is also expected to address both Houses of Congress.

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Friday, May 05, 2006
The blog must go on ... but not really

Wow! I haven't posted in more than a week and I'm still getting hits! I even got more today than the day before. I guess that means I've made it. Thanks to everyone who's linked or visited this site, even those who got here on google searches for "straightjacket and gagged" and the like. I hope you found something stimulating here even if it wasn't quite what you were looking for.

Why haven't I posted? I just wasn't in the mood I guess. When I started this thing I had no idea if it would last more than a day or two. I'm really not a writer, and I didn't think I'd have much to write about. There are enough other people who are more creative, observant (in the non-religious sense of the word), perceptive, insightful, witty, expressive, intelligent, and informed than I to render me beyond redundant (in the American sense of the word). But I went ahead and created this blog anyway, because I found that sometimes I did have things to say that I didn't see anyone else saying, and because I figured that if I'm a decent human being, I really should have at least one interesting thought (even if not original) every day or few worth sharing - no?!

Things went better than I thought they would. Once I had the forum, the material came more easily, and I found my writing was a little better than it had been back when I'd be throwing together papers weeks late under the schoolmaster's switch. But still, I'm a very moody person. My writing and my opinions can be very uneven, and what interests me one day bores me the next. I'm very indecisive, and critical of myself (and others), and I usually write slowly. A lot has happened in these last days, but nothing moved me enough or in quite the right way to put anything up here.

There was Holocaust Day. I thought of writing a post called "Hypocrisy Day" in response, because it's particularly on this day of pompous speech and ceremony that the chasm between what people say and what they do seems to widen so much that it looks like they're actually going to drop down into it and never be seen again. You have Ehud Olmert mouthing off like nobody's uncle about the perils of appeasement——even as he lays the groundwork for a massive withdrawal that can only whet his enemy's appetite. You have Tomy Lapid sneering at the nations like a rebellious teenager, saying that Israel will rely on no one except itself——even as it begs them for love and acceptance, even as it bows to foreign-imposed "peace" plans like the "Road Map" with its backing "quartet" (a name at which musicians everywhere should take offense), even as it takes gazillions of dollars in aid from America (which can't come free), and even as it concedes its security to wild Arabian marauders. I may have had legitimate complaints, but it didn't seem appropriate to voice them on a day that's been set aside for remembrance of the dead. Maybe Olmert and Lapid couldn't keep their mouths shut, but that didn't mean I had to start spouting off.

Yom Hazikaron doesn't register with me too much, but there's always Yom Ha'atzma'ut. I used to get fairly jolly when this time of year came around, but now I've been overcome by cynicism. I've come to see the State of Israel as a worthwhile enterprise only insofar as it helps Jews, i.e., enhances their religious observance or offers them protection from enemies. My support is thus conditional; the State is not an end in itself. I know that the religious Zionist opinion is that the State is actually an end in itself, but since spending time at a haredi yeshiva I've learned that there are other opinions, and in the end we just don't know who's right and what the role of the State really is. So we're left discussing particular merits and drawbacks. Overall, I think it still does more good than bad: as far as I can tell, more Jews have survived because of the State than perished because of it, it's enabled much of the ingathering that we've been waiting for for millennia, and though it led to a decrease in the religious observance of many, it has also facilitated preservation and outreach among others. It's really a mixed bag, and my feelings towards it are likewise mixed. If I never knew any soldiers to mourn on Yom Hazikaron, I do have something to mourn on Israeli "Independence" Day: the deterioration of the State and People of Israel, and the shattering of my youthful illusions about it.

The meaning of aliyah is also not what it once was. G-d willing, a month and a half from now, I'll be getting on a plane and leaving for Eretz Yisrael. I'm thrilled about being in the land, and among so many other Jews, but as for becoming an Israeli and getting a T'udat z'hut, I sort of feel like I'm hiring a really good bodyguard who happens to beat up my sister from time to time.

Add to all this the stress of worrying about how to ship the greatest amount of my belongings for the least money, whether I'll ever find a job that can keep me afloat, and where I'll be sleeping, and maybe you can see why I've been a little subdued.

By titling this post as I did, I mean to say that the blog is still here and I don't intend to close up shop, but I recognize that what I'm doing here is trivial. I do it because I want to inform and I want to be heard, but ... sometimes I don't. This blog will rear its head and dip back into the water as I do, and I can't guarantee that it won't ever go under for good. That said, part of the reason why I'm bothering to post is because I felt bad that some people were visiting here multiple times only to find the site neglected. I don't have very many readers, certainly not enough to justify the ads I have at the top of the page (but they make the site look professional, don't they, and the title of the blog appropriately sinks beneath them), but I feel a surprising level of camaraderie and responsibility. So, this one's for you, and maybe next time I'll have a better post.

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מי הוא זה ואי זה הוא

Name: Sabzi Aash
Location: Jerusalem, Israel

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Beneath the Planet of the Iranians

Dressing Iran up and down

Olmert? We don't want any....

The blog must go on ... but not really

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