| Thursday, 21 July 2011 16:33|
Joshua SteinI don’t doubt the man’s loyalty, bravery or honesty, but I do think Ephraim Sneh’s op-ed piece “Bad Borders, Good Neighbors” in the July 12 edition of The New York Times is off the mark. Sneh, a retired general in the Israel Defense Forces, was Israel’s deputy minister of defense from 1999 to 2001 and again from 2006 to 2007. His credentials are excellent; his proposal for peace between Israel and the Arabs is flawed.
Sneh advocates a Rube Goldberg plan of return to the 1967 borders (with territorial concessions based on transfer of Israeli land to Palestine in exchange for land occupied by Jewish settlements on the West Bank) and a disarmed Palestinian state, with Israeli soldiers patrolling the border with Jordan – which he argues disingenuously would not violate Palestinian sovereignty – and a three-way Israeli-Jordanian-Palestinian defense treaty. This, Sneh writes, “would bring about a dramatic, strategic change in the Middle East. It would remove the obstacle preventing moderates in the region from uniting against militant Islamist extremists and lay the groundwork for a new strategic alliance in the region, including the Persian Gulf countries, which are natural business partners for Israel, Jordan and Palestine. As a result, Israel would be able to extend its hand to new democratic and secular governments in the Arab and Muslim world. And those committed to Israel’s destruction would be confronted by a new alliance with enormous economic and military power.”
| Friday, 24 June 2011 16:19|
Joshua SteinAs if Anthony Weiner doesn’t have problems enough. For a really, really smart guy, you’d think he’d know how to keep his pants and shirt on when in camera range and how to pronounce his own name. Clue: In German and Yiddish, the diphthong “ei” is pronounced like “eye” – never “ee” as in “creep” or “peep.” I know it’s tough for him either way, but what with his lewd behavior and all it would be better to be a whiner than a… well, you get the idea.
Then there are the lewd photos, the denials, the admissions and ultimately the resignation. You know all about that.
“Drat,” I thought when the story was breaking. This is supposed to happen to Republicans – Mark Sanford (the former governor of South Carolina), Senator David Vitter (of Louisiana), John Ensign (a former senator from Nevada), Christopher Lee (a former congressman from upstate New York, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and Holy Roller televangelists – Jim Bakker, Ted Haggard and Jimmy Swaggart. These are the people of the party of family values, not a skinny Jewish Democrat from Brooklyn whose mother taught at Midwood High, a mile from my boyhood home.
| Friday, 10 June 2011 19:11|
| Joshua Stein|
Have you heard about Moishe who walked by a store featuring clocks and watches in its window? He needed a repair so he went in and asked the proprietor how much it would cost to fix his watch.
“We don’t fix watches here,” the man replied. “I’m a mohel.”
“A mohel?” Why do you have clocks in your window?”
“And what would you put there?”
I remember the brit-milah of each of my sons. The first time I was so amazed that I burst into tears. The second time I was amazed that, despite telling myself that I would not weep this time, I did again. The third time I steeled myself against such unmanly behavior and cried hardest. I’m a wimp, I guess. I was delivering these innocents to pain. I’m their father; I should be protecting them from men with sharp knives about to cut them, not delivering them up to them. It was like a sacrifice each time. Yes, I knew it was part of an ancient ritual welcoming the boy into the community, an opportunity for friends and relatives to kvell – to eat, sing and dance. But, well, if I believed in psychology, I might be tempted to say that it was a subconscious return to my own eighth-day experience.
| Friday, 27 May 2011 00:00|
| Joshua Stein|
What a crazy week!
First there was the Rapture. Unless you have been living under the proverbial Rock of Ages, you know that according to indisputable biblical prophecy, that on May 21, all true Christians were scheduled to be wafted up to Heaven for all eternity. The rest of us, however, would be subject to agonizing torments of biblical proportions until Oct. 21, when the world itself would come to an end. I’m not sure if at that point we were supposed go to Hell or simply cease to exist, but in either case we give up our chance of singing psalms and strumming harps and praising Jesus for the next 20 quadrillion years.
| Friday, 13 May 2011 00:00|
| Joshua Stein|
Does anyone read the Constitution anymore? I mean, yes it has embarrassing elements (Article IV, Section II, allowing vigilantes from the South to come up North to retrieve run-away slaves comes to mind immediately. But we got rid of that one. It cost us a Civil War with 620,000 deaths, but we got rid of it.) But there are some gems. I particularly like the phrase in Article VI that “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” Many of the framers then went on to sit in the first Congress which passed and sent around to the states a dozen amendments for ratification including one that contains this little piece: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
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