Archive for category Uncategorized
I was very happy last night when the Israeli High Court rejected the Government’s compromise on the Migron settlement and upheld their previous decision that building settlements on privately-owned Palestinian land is illegal under Israeli law, therefore Migron should be demolished.
Good news for once, no? Well…
In light of Sunday’s court ruling, however, MK Uri Ariel (National Union) said, “there is no option but to advance legislation that would give Migron legal standing at its present site without any relocation or evacuation.”
… MK Ya’acov Katz (National Union) said that from the start it had been clear to him that the only solution to Migron was legislation.
The government should not destroy any community it helped to create, he said.
“There is no reason why Jews should be evacuated from their homes under a Likud government,” said MK Danny Danon (Likud). “We must make use of the responsibility given to us by the people to lead the nation and the settlements in Judea and Samaria according to the values of Ze’ev Jabotinsky and [former prime minister] Menachem Begin.”
… MK Arye Eldad (National Union) said that “the court proved today that it preferred Arab interests over Jewish settlement even at the expense of spilling blood. If blood is spilled in Migron it will be on the heads of the court justices.”
Likud activist Moshe Feiglin warned that parliamentarians who opposed the legislation would lose his support and that of his followers in the next election.
… “The High Court justices could have made a decision to avoid conflict in Israeli society,” said Forum director attorney Nachi Eyal. “Clearly the court thinks human rights are only for Palestinians, not for Jews.”
“What do you expect from a panel containing a justice who won’t sing Hatikva?” Eyal added, in a dig at Supreme Court Justice Salim Joubran, who declined to sing the national anthem at Supreme Court president (emeritus) Dorit Beinisch’s retirement ceremony.
Let’s start with Danon: so this is against the spirit of Begin and Jabotinsky?!?! That would be the Begin who gave away the entire Sinai Peninsular – three times the six of Israel plus the West Bank plus Gaza? The Begin who sent a young Ariel Sharon to literally hose people off the roofs of the Sinai settlement of Yamit? And his mentor, Jabotinsky, the secular nationalist who never expressed much support for the Religious-Zionists who are trying to grab their “God-given land”?
Fortunately, Likkud stalwarts who do follow the Begin/Jabotinsky tradition of Revisionist Zionism are keeping to its ideals of a Jewish state that is secular and democratic by blocking everything the assholes quoted above are trying to push through. That said, Danon is the chair of World Likkud, he has a lot of power inside the party and is definitely getting more of his supporters onto the Knesset ticket. I am very worried for the future of Likkud if this continues, I have no doubt that he would do to Likkud what Barak did to Avoda.
Fortunately, there is still some integrity/competence in Likkud’s leadership, as evidenced by Bibi’s statement on the issue:
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Sunday reacted to the High Court’s rejection of a state request to delay the evacuation of the Migron Outpost until 2015, saying that “the government of Israel, along with its citizens, respects the court and acts according to the nation’s laws.”
And the guy who spoke about Joubran not singing Hatikva? Even Isi Liebler disagrees with him! There is pretty well a consensus in Israel that it is understandable for a non-Jew to feel uncomfortable singing about a “Jewish heart” yearning to be “a free people in our own land”. He stands for the anthem respectfully, but does not sing it – that is good enough for everyone else. What the hell is the ‘Legal forum for the Land of Israel’ anyway? And why are the Jerusalem Post paying them any attention?
As for Habayit Hayehudi and Halchud Leumi… well… we always knew they were nut-jobs.
I only hope that they get marginalised at the elections next year…
A woman getting thrown out of the AIPAC policy conference because she doesn’t want to be “silenced” by pro-Israel groups on campus. See, pro-Israel groups did not accept her anti-Israel group into their fold and that apparently amounts to “silencing” her. That’s like Santorum supporters complaining that they are being “silenced” at a pro-life rally.
For the record, I’ve been to an AIPAC Policy Conference. It’s an amazing event, I met all sorts of interesting people from evangelical Christian pro-Israel groups, Hispanic pro-Israel groups, black pro-Israel groups and others. That said, as these things often are, it was less about open discussion and determining the future of the America/Israel relationship and more about schmoozing. Most of the breakout sessions followed one of two themes: a) “look at all of the awesome stuff I’ve done over the past year, please give me money”; and b) “I’m really knowledgeable and smart, please buy my book”.
In fact, everyone who went to the conference was pretty much on the same page – they were from a surprisingly diverse range of ethnic backgrounds and political beliefs (it was not at all the “right-wing” organisation that some would have you believe it is), but they were, without exception, not only pro-Israel but pro-Israel enough that they would pay $500 for the conference + accommodation to be with other pro-Israel people and discuss pro-Israel things.
Which brings me to my real point: what exactly does this woman think she is achieving? Who is she trying to convince? The crowd reacted exactly as anyone would expect them to – they booed her until security came to escort her out. She has absolutely no chance of convincing anyone; in fact, she will most likely just reinforce peoples’ perception that they are being attacked. At best, she has wasted a total of three minutes of a session about pro-Israel activism on campus and has given a couple of hundred people a funny story to tell.
This complete lack of self-awareness is why the BDS movement will never get the momentum that it has deluded itself into thinking it has. Norman Finkelstein is wrong about a lot of things, but he’s right about that. It can be seen in the responses that pro-BDSers have had to him, as they huddle in their closed circles and defend themselves to each other. Take Sean O’Neil here:
Everything about the interview is classic Finkelstein: his demeanor, his tendency to raise his voice, his adversarial, passionate approach, everything, that is, except for the things he’s saying. In a bizarre turn of events, he comes off as a Zionist bully, or for that matter, any other angry right wing pundit. He accuses activists for Palestinian civil rights of having a secret agenda, that of destroying Israel.
… I recently witnessed BDS’s growing clout at a meeting I attended with a woman working with an Israeli artist helping set up a series of salons in New York to explore and question the Birthright Israel programs, and the idea of a “birthright” in general. The project sounds very interesting, but the woman was visibly frustrated at their inability to find people willing to work with them in the city. They are partially funded by the Israeli Consulate, and as a result have had the proverbial door shut on them by activists, artists, and professors, Arab and Jew alike. This would have been incomprehensible five years ago, when I first heard of the BDS movement at the annual Bil’in conference and it was, at that point, divisive even among conference attendees.
… Finkelstein’s sudden hostility to the solidarity movement is a symptom of this paradigm shift. It is easy to rail against Israel when the existence of a Jewish nation-state seems guaranteed in perpetuity. But that guarantee seems to have eroded a bit. For some this will be scary … For others it is liberating, and you can count among these an increasing number of Israelis who see coexistence – real coexistence, not the tenuous kind that reigns in Jaffa, among other places – as a more attractive guarantee to their security than the ethnocratic state. As the ground continues to shift, some of those who are afraid will flinch, and retreat to safer, more moderate arguments. Finkelstein flinched.
See? He seems to take offence to Finkelstein’s accusation that BDSers have a secret agenda of destroying Israel, only to later reveal his secret agenda to destroy Israel like there was nothing ironic happening there.
Also, the fact that an anti-Israel woman was struggling to find other anti-Israel people to come and talk about why Jews should not have a “birthright” does not mean BDS has “growing clout”. That means BDS has been adopted by people who hate Israel, but those people hated Israel anyway, the only disagreement was in methodology. Here’s how you measure whether BDS has “clout”: are tens of millions of dollars still pouring into the Birthright program every year? Yes? BDS has no clout.
This is in stark contrast to AIPAC. Unlike groups like StandWithUs, who try to counterbalance the BDS movement’s idiocy with some idiocy of their own, AIPAC very carefully consider the best way that they can make an impact in favour of their agenda. While BDSers are annoying a few AIPAC donors, AIPAC are selling the merits of increasing US-Israel security cooperation to Congress. The results speak for themselves.
It seems that I’m not the only one to notice the huge disparity in education outcomes between countries spending roughly the same amount of money on teachers’ salaries (amongst other things). Diane Ravitch has written a two-part essay in the New York Review of Books contrasting the which-achieving Finnish education system with the retrenched American one.
Her argument was compelling overall, although there were one or two things that I take issue with. I’ll start on a positive note:
In recent years, elected officials and policymakers … have agreed that there should be “no excuses” for schools with low test scores. The “no excuses” reformers maintain that all children can attain academic proficiency without regard to poverty, disability, or other conditions, and that someone must be held accountable if they do not. That someone is invariably their teachers.
Nothing is said about holding accountable the district leadership or the elected officials who determine such crucial issues as funding, class size, and resource allocation.
Much of her essay is on this theme: everyone in the US — Bush and Obama, State and Federal — are far too focussed on standardised test scores as a means of determining the proficiency of both students and teachers. Having suffered the NSW HSC, I can definitely relate to the problems created by forcing teachers to “teach to the test” with an extremely inflexible syllabus. As regular readers will know, I am also highly in favour of holding both district leadership and elected officials to account.
That said, Ravitch may be overlooking the most important distinction between the USA and Finland: culture. In fact, she actively argues against Finland’s homogeneous ethnicity being a determinative factor in its academic performance.
Detractors say that Finland performs well academically because it is ethnically homogeneous, but Sahlberg responds that “the same holds true for Japan, Shanghai or Korea,” which are admired by corporate reformers for their emphasis on testing. To detractors who say that Finland, with its population of 5.5 million people, is too small to serve as a model, Sahlberg responds that “about 30 states of the United States have a population close to or less than Finland.”
Firstly, Japan, Korea and Shanghai are not exactly struggling -– especially compared to where they used to be. Also, the ethnic homogeneity of Finland may have a lot to do with what Ravitch does identify as a very important factor in education outcomes: the esteem in which teachers are held.
Finland’s highly developed teacher preparation program is the centerpiece of its school reform strategy. Only eight universities are permitted to prepare teachers, and admission to these elite teacher education programs is highly competitive: only one of every ten applicants is accepted. There are no alternative ways to earn a teaching license. Those who are accepted have already taken required high school courses in physics, chemistry, philosophy, music, and at least two foreign languages. Future teachers have a strong academic education for three years, then enter a two-year master’s degree program…
In the second essay, Ravitch argues that were the US to impose similar standards on their teachers, this would improve the public image of teachers and so would improve the quality of applicants and the culture of teachers into one where teachers teach because of their “intrinsic motivation”:
Like other professionals, as Pasi Sahlberg shows in his book Finnish Lessons, Finnish teachers are driven by a sense of intrinsic motivation, not by the hope of a bonus or the fear of being fired. Intrinsic motivation is also what they seek to instill in their students. In the absence of standardized testing by which to compare their students and their schools, teachers must develop, appeal to, and rely on their students’ interest in learning.
It seems to me that Ravitch is confusing cause and effect. The ethnic and cultural homogeneity of Finland is a key factor as this is obviously a culture that takes great pride in education. I would hazard a guess that in a country like the USA that clearly does not do so overall, there are still areas and communities with a Finnish-like attitude to educating their children and these communities show disproportionately strong outcomes despite functioning in exactly the same system as everyone else. That is certainly true of the Jewish community in Australia.
She unwittingly presents more evidence in favour of this theory, both when arguing for more Union involvement in education and when arguing that education does not solve poverty:
Finland’s success confounds the GERM (Global Education Reform Movement) theorists, because almost every teacher and principal in Finland belongs to the same union. The union works closely with the Ministry of Education to improve the quality of education, and it negotiates for better salaries, benefits, and working conditions for educators.
… Schools are crucial institutions in our society and teachers can make a huge difference in changing children’s lives, but schools and teachers alone cannot cure the ills of an unequal and stratified society. Every testing program—whether the SAT, the ACT, or state and national tests—demonstrates that low scores are strongly correlated to poverty.
The lesson from Finland’s union is not that Unions are necessarily beneficial for education, but that everyone in Finland is more or less of the same mindset. Similarly, the anti-education culture in impoverished communities could go a long way to explaining why children at the same school will have worse outcomes if they have impoverished parents. However, as I have often lamented, culture is off-limits for criticism.
The final point I will raise is on the subject of teacher conditions. Ravitch observes that there is a very high turnover in the teaching profession, leading to a lack of experienced teachers:
The teaching profession in the United States is a revolving door. It’s easy to enter, and many teachers leave—up to 40 to 50 percent—in their first five years as teachers. The turnover is highest in low-scoring urban districts. We do not support new teachers with appropriate training and mentoring, and we have a problem retaining teachers. No other profession in the United States has such a high rate of turnover.
… corporate reformers have shown no interest in raising standards for the teaching profession. They believe that entry-level requirements such as certification, master’s degrees, and other credentials are unrelated to “performance,” that is, student test scores. They also scorn seniority, experience, tenure, and other perquisites of the profession. Instead, they believe that a steady infusion of smart but barely trained novices will change the face of teaching.
Ironically, while Ravitch is condemning American “corporate reformers” (actually public servants pretending to take a corporate approach) and praising Finnish Unions, in this instance the Australian Unions have gone the way of the American pseudo-corporates:
Here, as elsewhere throughout the world, teacher unions wield enormous power … Their power has had three effects on education.
The first is the bulk of additional funding for education has gone into hiring more teachers instead of paying existing teachers more.
The second effect is that … in Australia the starting salary for teachers is relatively high by world standards, but salaries for experienced teachers relatively low.
The third effect of a heavily unionised workforce has been that up until the past few years there was minimal accountability and performance measurement of teachers.
Those first two points seem to be exactly what Ravitch is discouraging – incentives for young people to go into teaching for a few years and then leave to pursue other ends, meaning that smaller and smaller classes are being taught by increasingly poorly trained and inexperienced teachers.
Maybe Australia does need to take some lessons from Finland:
- Stop concentrating so hard on getting more teachers and focus on keeping the ones we have.
- Stop adding new education courses at uni and improve the ones we have.
- Start looking into ways to combat “tall-poppy syndrome” in schools. If there is one thing leading to underachievement in Australia, it’s this – can we at least talk about it?
- Throwing money at a problem does not solve it.
I just saw the following press statement, which I figured I’d repost in full, mostly because I find these guys pretty damn funny.
Also, while I agree that there has to be a line somewhere and that hacking could be very dangerous, these guys are doing some amazing work. They’re exposing how backwards and vulnerable some very serious authorities and companies are in terms of internet security, and they’re doing it in a way that is pretty funny rather than dangerous. With the same skills but more malice, they could have brought banks down, exposed Government secrets and caused recession and chaos.
Plus, how could anyone who made this be evil?
Anonymous & Lulz Security Statement – Pastebin.com.
Hello thar FBI and international law authorities,
We recently stumbled across the following article with amazement and a certain amount of amusement:
The statements made by deputy assistant FBI director Steve Chabinsky in this article clearly seem to be directed at Anonymous and Lulz Security, and we are happy to provide you with a response.
“We want to send a message that chaos on the Internet is unacceptable, [even if] hackers can be believed to have social causes, it’s entirely unacceptable to break into websites and commit unlawful acts.”
Now let us be clear here, Mr. Chabinsky, while we understand that you and your colleagues may find breaking into websites unacceptable, let us tell you what WE find unacceptable:
* Governments lying to their citizens and inducing fear and terror to keep them in control by dismantling their freedom piece by piece.
* Corporations aiding and conspiring with said governments while taking advantage at the same time by collecting billions of funds for federal contracts we all know they can’t fulfil.
* Lobby conglomerates who only follow their agenda to push the profits higher, while at the same time being deeply involved in governments around the world with the only goal to infiltrate and corrupt them enough so the status quo will never change.
These governments and corporations are our enemy. And we will continue to fight them, with all methods we have at our disposal, and that certainly includes breaking into their websites and exposing their lies.
We are not scared any more. Your threats to arrest us are meaningless to us as you cannot arrest an idea. Any attempt to do so will make your citizens more angry until they will roar in one gigantic choir. It is our mission to help these people and there is nothing – absolutely nothing – you can possibly to do make us stop.
“The Internet has become so important to so many people that we have to ensure that the World Wide Web does not become the Wild Wild West.”
Let me ask you, good sir, when was the Internet not the Wild Wild West? Do you really believe you were in control of it at any point? You were not.
That does not mean that everyone behaves like an outlaw. You see, most people do not behave like bandits if they have no reason to. We become bandits on the Internet because you have forced our hand. The Anonymous bitchslap rings through your ears like hacktivism movements of the 90s. We’re back – and we’re not going anywhere. Expect us.
Continuing a long-standing tradition of escalating the hardship of Palestinians and exacerbating tensions with Israel in order to distract from problems at home, it looks like Syrian president Bashar al-Assad has been behind the recent riots on the Syrian border in which Palestinians haves been killed whilst trying to break into Israel. There were reports quite soon after that the Syrian regime had been paying the protesters, however it seems that the Palestinian terror groups that Syria harbours have now been clamping down on any opposition.
According to WAFA and other reports, the fighters from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, which is backed by Syria, clashed with mourners in the Yarmouk refugee camp after funerals for Palestinian protesters who were killed on Sunday at the border between Syria and the Israeli-held Golan Heights.
The shootings on Monday took place after mourners accused the organization of sacrificing Palestinian lives by encouraging protesters to demonstrate at the Golan Heights, Reuters reported. Reports also referred to divisions in the camp between those who support the government of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria and those who sympathize with the Syrian opposition, which is seeking expanded democratic rights.
I remain hopeful that 60 years later, the Arab world will finally see through these charades and realise that Israel is not the sole cause of the Palestinians’ plight (or, for that matter, of every other problem that the Arabs face). I’m still amazed that no one focuses on the horrible treatment that Palestinians receive in Arab states, why isn’t the so-called “Palestine solidarity” movement going to Lebanon to demand that Palestinians are allowed to work, own property and live outside of designated areas? That is Apartheid if I ever saw it…
1. The Jews Did It
And that picture proves it.
The website compared satellite footage and imagery of the area with Israel’s outline and concluded that the main house – where bin Laden was captured and killed – is located where Jerusalem can be found on a map of Israel. The compound’s gate parallels the location of Tel Aviv, its dumping ground matches the location of Tiberias, and another building matched the location of Haifa.
2. He was a Jew anyway
At least according to the Iranian government.
“He was just a puppet controlled by the Zionist regime in order to present a violent image of Islam after the September 11 attacks,” he said, adding that the al-Qaeda leaders assassination proves he had “an expiration date” forcing the US to kill him. ”Bin Ladens death reflects the passing of a temporary US pawn, and symbolizes the end of one era and the beginning of another in American policy in the region,” Kosari said.
3. I guess he’s a cat person…
Some Palestinian preacher.
Preacher: “Today, the dogs of the West are rejoicing at the killing of one of the lions of Islam. Today, the West rejoices at the killing of one of the lions of Islam. We say to them, from the Al-Aqsa Mosque, from the heart of the Caliphate, which, Allah willing, is soon to come: Dogs should not rejoice at the killing of lions. A country of dogs will always remain a country of dogs, while a lion remains a lion even after it is killed.
“We will not forget all the crimes being committed by these American dogs in all the Muslim countries.
“Even if a lion is killed, the nation of one billion Muslims will give birth to hundreds of millions of lions.
“We say [to President Obama]: You said yourself that you personally gave the order to kill Muslims. Know that the day will soon come when you find yourself hanging from the gallows, next to little Bush, and next to all your cronies involved in the killing of Muslims.”
4. The Jews loved it
Well, at least one Young Adult Chabbad rabbi did.
Is It Okay to Celebrate Bin Laden’s Death? – The Big Picture
What is so terrible, after all, about celebrating the death of a wicked evildoer? Why would you even think it decrepit to rejoice that a man who himself rejoiced over the demise of thousands of others, and connived ingeniously to bring destruction and terror across the globe, should now be removed from it? Is it so horrible to feel happy that the world has just become a better, safer and happier place?
No, it’s not. That’s perfectly legit. On the contrary, someone who is not celebrating at this time is apparently not so concerned by the presence of evil upon our lovely planet. Those who are outraged by evil are carrying now smiles upon their face. The apathetic don’t give a hoot.
Want to talk to me about “resistance”? Read this:
Before entering the house, the suspects noticed Yoav and Elad Fogel in the home’s window. Yoav [age 11] and Elad [age 4] were the first to be stabbed after the suspect entered the home. The suspects then entered the parents’ room. Ehud and Ruth tried to fight off the attackers, but were eventually overcome and stabbed to death. Ruth was also shot, but due to the weather at the time of the murder, the gunshots were not heard. The suspects fled the home, fearing that the gunshots had been heard.
Outside of the home, the suspects realized that their gunshots had gone unnoticed and they had not yet been discovered. Amjad Awad subsequently reentered the home in order to steal an additional M-16 rifle that was there. Back inside the parents’ room, Awad noticed three-month-old Hadas and stabbed her to death. While leaving the home once more, the suspect noticed that there were more children but apparently figured that he was running out of time. The lives of Roi Fogel, 8, and Yishai Fogel, 2, were spared.
I’m actually speechless. All I can do is read-over that sentence again.
“Back inside the parents’ room, Awad noticed three-month-old Hadas and stabbed her to death. ”
And as if that wasn’t bad enough:
According to a senior Shin Bet official, despite the suspects’ young age, Hakim and Amjad “described what they did with self-control and did not express regret over their actions at any stage of the investigation.”
I say in all seriousness that these are not the actions of human beings. There is no humiliation or provocation imaginable to justify murdering children in person and in cold blood. It takes an inhuman bloodlust to stick a knife into a three-month-old baby.
For those of you who aren’t squeamish, the family decided to release photos of the victims so that the crime could not be downplayed as these things usually are.
Reports came out last year of a bizarre theme park created by Hizballah, but now some genius from Vice Magazine has photographed it and provided some pretty funny commentary.
I took the liberty of thinking up some rides for their expansion:
- Beauty and The Bomb – Live On Stage
- Cinderella’s Crater
- Honey I Shot The Kids
- The Many Adventures of Whinnie The Prophet (peace be upon Him)
- Beirut Lightyear: Space Ranger Spin
- Slaying Private Ryan
- Space Madrassa
- Flaying Nemo – The Musical
- Harry Potter and the Adulterers Stoned
- Pirates of the Gulf of Aden
- Rock ‘N Rollerkatushya – Strring Aerosmith
- It’s A Shiite World After All(ah)
- Snow Shiite’s Terrifying Adventures
Click here to see the actual park:
ATLAS HOODS AT JIHADLAND: HEZBOLLAH’S WAX MUSEUM THEME PARK – Viceland Today.