Monday, August 31, 2009

Hamas shows its true colors again - Holocaust denial and hatred of Jews

Hamas, the Holocaust-denying Islamist terrorist organization that runs Gaza, slams UN over "Holocaust classes" in Gaza.
Branding the Nazi genocide of the Jews "a lie invented by the Zionists", the Islamist movement which runs the Gaza Strip wrote in an open letter to a senior U.N. official that he should withdraw plans for a new history book in U.N. schools....Hamas said it believed UNRWA was about to start using a text for 13-year-olds that included a chapter on the Holocaust. In an open letter to local UNRWA chief John Ging, the movement's Popular Committees for Refugees said: "We refuse to let our children study a lie invented by the Zionists."
Of course, the UNRWA schools currently do not teach anything about the Holocaust, and when asked if there were any plans to change that, the UNRWA spokesmen refused to answer.

UPDATE: Apparently, contrary to the article quoted above, UNRWA does have a new human rights curriculum for eighth graders that teaches the basic facts of the Holocaust.
Three teachers at U.N. schools said that according to the new program, basic information about the Holocaust was expected to be taught to eighth grade students as part of human rights classes.

Two of the teachers said they were told about the lesson plan by colleagues involved in the new syllabus. Another teacher said he attended a recent meeting with education officials where he was told to try to teach the new syllabus without offending parents' sensibilities.

All three said they had not received the syllabus for the human rights classes yet, even though the school year began in late August. They requested anonymity because they are not allowed to speak to reporters.

Madonna tours Jewish holy sites in Jerusalem

And on a happier note: Madonna tours Jewish holy sites in Jerusalem. She toured an ancient tunnel near the Western Wall. I presume this is part of the Kotel tunnels area. If one goes north of the part of the Western Wall that is open to worshippers, one comes first to a big archway in the men's section that leads into an inside area for prayer and study. Continuing northward, one walks underneath the Mamluk buildings that butt right up against the western wall of the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif. The area has been excavated since after the Six Day War, when the Old City came under Israeli control, and the whole length of the wall was opened to tourists in 1996, occasioning riots which led to the deaths of many Palestinians. The tunnel goes all the way to the Via Dolorosa. For more information, see The Western Wall Tunnels.

I found a couple of videos of part of a tour of the Western Wall tunnels -
Kotel Tunnel tour #1
Kotel Tunnel tour #2

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Jerusalem news: still fighting over the parking lot

Haredim, seculars clash in Jerusalem.

I'm teaching a course about Jerusalem this semester (history, politics, religion, and architecture from biblical times to the present). From time to time I'll be blogging about what's going on in Jerusalem today - and the story of the day seems to be the continued riots over the Karta parking lot opening on the Sabbath. Haredi and secular people clashed, as well as the police and the Haredim.


This photo shows a policeman confronting a group of Haredi men. It's not clear to me where they are.

The Haredim were shouting "Shabbes" and "Nazis" at the policemen trying to keep them away from the parking lot.

Antiwar Movement Plans Fall Campaign on Afghanistan

The only good news in this story is that ANSWER isn't mentioned, although unfortunately the execrable Code Pink has jumped in:
Code Pink is trying to build opposition to the war among women’s groups, some of which argue that women will suffer if the Taliban returns. In September, a group of Code Pink organizers will visit Kabul to encourage Afghan women to speak out against the American military presence there.
Only "some" women's groups argue that women will suffer if the Taliban returns? As Barney Frank said recently in another context, what planet are these people on?

Although I eventually came to oppose the war in Iraq, it was not because I was persuaded by the anti-war movement, but because of my own judgment about horrendous things the U.S. has done there (especially the torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib and other prisons, the lack of any evidence for WMDs, the evidence that the Bush administration consistently lied to us, etc.). The rhetoric of the anti-war movement repelled me, and continues to repel me. I have no respect for people like Medea Benjamin and Cindy Sheehan. For them, the U.S. is always the villain, not any other nation or group of people. It will be entertaining, in a grimly repulsive fashion, to see how they excuse the Taliban for their crimes against their own people, especially Afghan women, and for their crimes against the people of the United States, in allying with Al Qaeda and providing a base for Osama bin Laden's jihadists. Maybe Code Pink and Cindy Sheehan have forgotten the September 11 attacks and where they came from, but I certainly haven't.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Back in Ithaca

I returned to Ithaca this morning, and it is so green! So much is growing - the tomatoes & basil in the backyard, the rose bushes (which have been sadly decimated by the Japanese beetles), the Rose of Sharon trees, the lilac bushes, the coneflowers (echinachia), the brown-eyed Susans, the grass.... We are really blessed by abundant rain here! (At least this summer). My tenants told me that apparently some creature has been eating the tomatoes when they start to get ripe - I hope that when I pick my cat up from the kennel today, he'll start keeping whatever animal it is away from them.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Vigil for Tel Aviv attack held in Jerusalem

I wasn't able to get to this event, but there was a Vigil for Tel Aviv attack held in Jerusalem this afternoon. The Jerusalem Post is reporting that about 500 came, mostly young people.
Hundreds of people convened Sunday afternoon in Jerusalem's Kikar Zion to express solidarity with the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) after two people were killed and more than a dozen injured on Saturday night.

Some 500 arrived to the square, carrying signs in with slogans including "Live and Let Love," "Why Kill?" and Tourism Ministry posters of Jerusalem on which the phrase "Senseless Hatred destroyed Jerusalem" was written in Hebrew. Some people waved flags with the rainbow colors symbolizing the gay community and others waved black flags.
Members of the homosexual...

Members of the homosexual community light candles at Kikar Zion in Jerusalem, in memory of the victims of the shooting at the gay youth center in Tel Aviv on Saturday night.
Photo: Ariel Jerozolimksi

Nir Katz and Liz Trobishi buried today

Gay center shooting victim laid to rest.
Nir Katz, one of the two people killed during Saturday night's shooting attack at a gay and lesbian youth center in Tel Aviv, was laid to rest in Modi'in on Sunday....

Relatives and friends, as well as representatives of various gay organizations and Deputy IDF Chief of Staff Maj.-Gen. Dan Harel all arrived at the cemetery to pay their last respects to Nir.

His mother Ayala said during the service, "Nir always had a smile on his face; and endless love for every living creature. He always had respect for himself, his life and those around him."

Nir's father, Rami, was killed in the first Tze'elim Disaster in 1990, in which five soldiers were killed by a shell during training, when Nir was only seven years old. His mother, Ayala remarried, raising Nir and his other five siblings.
I just heard on the radio that the second victim Liz Trobishi was also laid to rest today. Some memories of her from her friends:
Friends and relatives flocked until the early hours of Sunday morning to the home of Liz Trobishi, 16, who was killed Saturday night in a shooting attack at a Tel Aviv gay center.

As they struggled to digest the news, the mourners told of a happy girl who loved to write poetry....

Trobishi's friends said she participated regularly in activities held by the gay youth organization Igy, even though she herself was not a lesbian.

"Although I am not a part of the Igy community I really love being with them," the 16-year-old wrote on the youth organization's online forum a few months ago.

"I connected with a lot of people, met a lot of nice people and am not sorry for any moment," she added.

According to her friends, whenever somebody would announce online that they had come out of the closet, Trobishi would post a message of support on the forum.

"I am so happy to know it went well," she wrote to one of her friends....

Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar attended her funeral, and told the mourners that it was hard to believe there could be such evil as that which cut short Trobishi's life.

"I have to say that I felt yesterday and I feel today shame for a society that is turning into a violent, cruel, inhumane society. Week after week, we hear and read about things that our brains cannot process, and I really hope that together we can create in the future a better society and protect our children."

Trobishi is survived by her parents and three brothers.

More on the attack on the gay center

The names of the murder victims have just been released for publication: Nir Katz (26) and Liz Tarabushi (17).

Shlomo Laufer, in an opinion piece on Ynet, writes about the homophobia and attacks that gays and lesbians even in Tel Aviv face every day.
Friday night on Tel Aviv’s beachfront promenade; two guys holding hands, standing at the beach line, and kissing. Three men pass by and swear at them; one man spits. Tel Aviv, Israel’s liberalism capital, the city that openly celebrates pride parades and markets gay tourism packages worldwide; a city whose leaders inaugurate gay centers, but cannot defend us from our greatest enemy – fear and hatred....

Dozens of youth groups, gay association branches, and small community groups operate outside of Tel Aviv through silent agreement. Yet it is not always silent. Eight years ago, when a youth group was established in the town of Hadera, we were ambushed by dozens of haredi thugs organized by the local Shas chairman. They raided the branch, beat us up, threatened us, and threw us out. It worked out for them; a few gay teenagers cannot face hate-filled brigades. So we spread across the country; most of us moved to Tel Aviv. This was supposed to be the ultimate shelter; a local version of San Francisco.
I'm listening right now to Yaron Dekel's morning show on Reshet Bet, and he began the broadcast by talking about how politicians need to take responsibility for their speech - and that anti-gay hate speech can lead to murder. His discussion with Yonit Levy, the mother of a gay son, includes a mention of the murder of Yitzhak Rabin in 1995 - which was preceded by wild hate speech against Rabin and posters of Rabin dressed in an SS uniform. Levy is now saying that she's going back to the hospital to be with the wounded, since for some of them, their parents have not come to visit them and they need people to be with them.

3 killed in attack on gay center in Tel Aviv

Update: According to the Israeli news sites this morning (Sunday, August 2), two were killed, not three. The original reports must have been wrong that the man in the hospital had also died. The murderer has still not been captured.

Haaretz reports that three young people were murdered at an event for youth from the gay and lesbian community in Tel Aviv. The event occurred in the basement of the Association for Gay and Lesbian Rights in Israel, at the corner of Ahad Ha'Am and Nahmani Streets in Tel Aviv. The dead were a young man of 24, a young woman of 17 and another man who died of his wounds in the hospital. About 15 other people were injured, 4 of them in serious condition. Eyewitnesses at the scene reported that a masked gunman entered the basement of the building, began to shoot in all directions and then escaped. At this point the gunman has not yet been located and the police are searching for him with a helicopter and many police vehicles.

Another report in Haaretz says that activists in the organization have gathered tonight at the corner of Nahmani and Rothschild streets and have lit candles. Members of the gay community did not hesitate to say that "there is no doubt that this is a hate crime." Mike Hamel, the head of the Aguda, said that this was an unprecedented event for the gay community in Israel. "We have joined the 'enlightened' countries in which hatred is the standard."

Hamel said that the club was located on a quiet street and that there was no obvious sign out front, to allow youth who are dealing with their sexuality to come to the place securely. For this reason, the Aguda had not thought of hiring security for the place.

Knesset Member Nitzan Horowitz from Meretz, who is gay (and who spoke at the gay pride march in Jerusalem in June) said that "there is no doubt that this is the harshest attack ever against the gay community in Israel."

I had been thinking today that I felt lucky to have been in Israel at a time when no terrorist attacks have occurred - unfortunately that feeling of safety has been violated. While the police define this attack as having a "criminal" rather than "nationalistic" context, attacking gay youth in the headquarters of the national gay and lesbian organization in Israel strikes me as a hate crime intended to terrorize gay people of all ages in Israel.