Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Thursday 28 April 2011

The Goodness Around Us

I was at the supermarket yesterday, stocking up on post-Pesach food items after coming back from vacation.  While there I ran into one of the ladies from the local community who was all a fluster.  It seems she had come to to store to buy chicken to make for dinner and the fridge bar where the meat is displayed was sold out.  This was, to her, a crisis as she wanted to cook chicken for dinner.
Now let me paint the scene for you: perhaps ten metres from the fridge meat is the freezer section where there were some kosher chickens.  Above the frozen chickens were prepared meats like burgers, chicken patties, etc. The local kosher butcher shop, which was still open at that point, was only 5 minutes drive away.  For this woman, however, the world was crashing down.  This was simply unacceptable.  She wanted fresh (if you consider that the chickens were killed about a week earlier is now called "fresh") chicken!  Where was the manager?
(Even her teenage daughter was rolling her eyes in embarrassment)
Naturally upon seeing me she came over expecting a sympathetic ear.  At this point, the old line from Bugs Bunny should come to mind: "He don't know me too well, do he!"  To my credit, I listened without laughing and then advised her that I would call the Afghan War Widow Relief committee to let them know I'd found someone in worse trouble than their clients.  She wasn't terribly impressed with the answer but I really didn't care at that point.
Look around.  We live in the most blessed time in history.  Clean water from our taps.  The rule of law in the streets (most of 'em).  Free and accessible education for all.  Modern medicine that is also affordable for most (especially in Canada).  Food free of disease, available in large quantities at reasonable prices.  Cars for almost everyone.  Satellite TV with 1000's of channels and the internet bringing us a universe of information instantly.  If the worse problem is one's life is that one has to spend an hour defrosting a chicken or driving five minutes to buy one because a "fresh" one was unavailable where one was at that moment, then one is living in an amazing place and time, one billions of people would trade their souls to be part of.
Perhaps I'm just more cynical because I spend my day listening to people complain about the most trivial of things as if they were life-ending tragedies.  Too many patient interviews start off with "How are you today?" "Terrible, Lord Ironheart, just terrible!"  "Why?" "I've had a sore throat and cough for two days!"  Perhaps too many times I've responding "Really!  Well at least you have a roof over your head, clean water to drink, medicine coverage, healthy food and no cancer but yes, that sore throat sounds like it's a life ruiner!"
Every moment we have in which we have our health and security is priceless and precious.  The real tragedy is if we spend that time complaining about stupid little things that don't really harm us and aren't really of consequence.  The wasted time not appreciating how wonderful things are is the real loss.  I just wish more people would realize that.

Wednesday 27 April 2011

The Disappointment of Aish HaTorah

Every year I take my family to a Pesach hotel.  This was our fifth year with the same program and for the first four years we had the pleasure of having things led by an amazing Rav.  Not only was he a dynamic speaker but he was also willing to address deep topics for the crowd and not shy from stating controversial viewpoints that he strongly believed in.
Apparently this wasn't what some people liked so this year a different Rav was brought it.  In contrast to the previous one who was a pulpit rabbi, this one is one of Aish HaTorah's "missionaries".  He's one of their biggest guns, apparently (or so he likes to think).  He's also known as an amazing speaker and, given his reputation as Aish's "rabbi to the Hollywood stars" I was intrigued as to what he'd be speaking about during various parts of the program.
I'll admit my biases off the top.  I really like the previous Rav and was not happy he wasn't even invited back so for me this guy was starting at a disadvantage.  In addition, due in part to my blogging experiences, I am well-aware that Aish's Discovery material, the stuff they use to prove the truth of Torah, is about as deep as a puddle of rainwater after the sun has dried it away.  So I was cynical going in.
Unfortunately my cynical side was not disappointed.  I was hoping for great speeches on a variety of subjects, some of them even Pesach-related.  Instead I got the Discovery Seminar, only it was the dumbed-down version due to time constraints.  Talk about disappointment!
Imagine the following: you attend a conference on the latest treatments for heart attacks.  Twenty years later you attend another conference on the same subject and the main speaker repeats all the stuff he said at the first one.  What would your response be to such a speech, given that treatments for heart attacks twenty years ago are totally obsolete and only of historical interest today?
I attended a Discovery program around twenty years ago and the material that this Rav covered was almost identical to that original presentation.  Over the last twenty years there have been tremendous social changes in the Jewish community including the rise of the atheoskeptics along with the growing off-the-derech phenomenon.  Chrisian missionaries, as annoying as they can be, aren't the primary threat to many parts of our community anymore but just like twenty years ago that's all his presentation was about: Kuzari proof, verses in the Bible that refute Chrisianity, etc. etc.  Every talk he gave about his successes was the same: he finds some schmedrick that knows nothing about history or comparative religion and feeds him the Kuzari proof.  Nothing about atheoskeptics.  Nothing about answering the questions OTD's raise.
By the end of the first talk I was annoyed so I raised my hand.  My question was quite simple: "Your material is all nice and good for a high school student with no knowledge of Judaism.  What do you say to someone who actually knows what you're talking about, has investigated the alternatives and doesn't buy your 'proofs'?"
The answer?  "That's the subject about another talk."  Talk about blow-off.
The problem wasn't so much the shallow nature of the so-called "proofs" this Rav considered so conclusive.  It was other things like how he misrepresented Chrisianity, something he quietly admitted to me that he did to 'simplify' things for the crowd.  Ah good, now he's not only arrogant but thinks we're all stupid too.
Then there was the aforementioned arrogance.  In one of his talks he assured us he needed only 5 minutes alone with the Pope to convince him of the truth of Judaism.  Right, because you get to be Pope after collecting another of those proof-of-puchase things from boxes of Alphabits.  Listen, I'm not a fan of Catholicism or Chrisianity in general but I have no doubt of the great intelligence the Pope needs to possess to do his job.
There was also a lot of disappointment.  One of his speeches was titled "Answering the skeptic".  I was excited for that one.  Perhaps there was an actually intelligent version of his presentation he'd been saving up? No, he assured us off the top, he wasn't going to speak about that.  There was no point in speaking to skeptics, at least publicly.  There you go: a major threat to traditional Judaism and we might as well just ignore them and speak about successful encounters with ignoramuses.
Maybe it was the inconsistencies in his speeches.  A couple of nights after telling us that he was 5 minutes away from converting the Pope to Judaism he told us the story of how he spent an eleven hour flight to Israel convincing some hapless chiloni about the truth of Torah.  However, at the end of the flight the young man in question did not immediately go out and buy a black hat and sign up for kollel learning.  For the Pope he only needed 5 minutes but after 11 hours this chiloni was still not completely convinced?
There was other inconsistencies.  He told us a story of how he mocked some Mormon missionaries (in Salt Lake City of all places) and pointed out the absurdities of their beliefs.  They apparently responded by saying that it was their willingness to believe in such absurd things that made them beloved of God.  Of course, he chortled, this is in total contrast to Judaism which is a completely rational faith with no absurd beliefs!
No, I didn't mention the idea of spending $100 or more to buy a gloried lemon for Sukkos.  No, I didn't mention dibbuks or any Baal Shem Tov stories.  Instead I went for what I thought was the obvious: the idea that there are many prominent Jewish figures who believe we should read the first chapter of Bereshis literally which means that the Earth was created over 144 hours and that dinosaur bones were planted by God as fakes in order to test our faith.  Fake dinosaur bones, could there be anything more absurd?
His answer, of course, went beyond inconsistency and into something that is either a lie or idiocy: there are no rabbis he's aware of, he said, who hold like that.
Okay, where to being?  How about Rav Dovid Gottlieb, philosopher-in-chief at the Yerushalayim branch of Aish's competitor, Ohr Sameach?  In addition to ineffectually slagging Rav Natan Slifkin from time to time, he apparently believes that it is the universally accepted Jewish belief that we must read Genesis literally.  Here's the money quote:
Our mesorah insists that the six days of Creation, counting from the first creative act, were six literal days
Got it?  Well apparently this Rav had never heard of Gottlieb and, in his mind, that meant he was of no importance.
And what of the Slifkin controversy which was based entirely on this issue, with Rav Slifkin writing a whole book on how there is copious support in the mesorah for a non-literal understanding of Genesis and his opponents putting him into cherem for daring to say so?
Oh no, was the response, that's not what it was about and anyway, no one takes the literal position that Genesis must have taken 144 hours as we understand them.  They simply hold that we can't understand what happened during that period of time and Slifkin crossed some kind of line by trying to explain it.
What about Rav Aharon Shechter and his diatribe, made famous by Youtube, against Rav Slifkin while insisting on a literal understanding of Genesis?  Nah, he hadn't heard about that either.
Fine, I figured I'd go for the big gun.  He wasn't aware of any rabbonim who were in favour of the literal reading of Genesis?  Had he perhaps heard of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, a"h?
(By the way, this is probably why Chareidi-type figures try so hard to ban the internet.  They don't seem to be able to figure out how to adjust to the new reality it has created.  Pity the poor Chabad shaliach, for example, who insists that open meschichistim are a fringe part of the movement when confronted with an on-line video showing a prominent Chabad Rav insisting der Rebbe fihrt de velt.)
In a letter dated back to 1961 the Rebbe reveals a partial understanding of science but also quite openly dismisses any understanding of Genesis other than the "traditional" (in other words, the view he favours) one:

The theory of evolution, to which reference has been made, actually has no bearing on the Torah account of Creation. For even if the theory of evolution were substantiated today, and the mutation of species were proven in laboratory tests, this would still not contradict the possibility of the world having been created as stated in the Torah, rather than through the evolutionary process. The main purpose of citing the evolutionary theory was to illustrate how a highly speculative and scientifically unsound theory can capture the imagination of the uncritical, so much so that it is even offered as a scientific" explanation of the mystery of Creation, despite the fact that the theory of evolution itself has not been substantiated scientifically and is devoid of any real scientific basis.
Nope, the Rebbe wasn't a literalist either!
Now, I am not a skeptic, by any means.  I have critically examined the relevant materials and concluded that the Torah is true but that it is also an incredibly complex document.  Both the atheoskeptic who insists that it's a man-made document and the fanatic who insists on believing any bit of dogma, no matter how bizarre, both misunderstand the Torah, possibly wilfully in order to adjust it to meet their personal agendas.  Fine, that's the way they are, I can't help that. 
But after listing to this crap (sorry, that's the most polite word I could come up with) I became very angry.  People are becoming frum because of him?  After listening to presentations full of inaccuracies, misrepresentations and lies?  What kind of superficial, simplistic Judaism are they being led to practice?  How well do they really understand how Torah works?  What kind of easy pickings will they be for the first atheoskeptic with a spare copy of The God Delusion who walks by?
I liked the food.  I liked the davening.  The seders were great.
But I'm really hoping this Rav's appearance is a one-time event that doesn't get repeated.

Monday 18 April 2011

Happy Holydays

I would like to wish all my readers the best for a healthy, happy and colonically regular Pesach.
Chag Kasher v'Sameach!

Sunday 17 April 2011

Do As You Want Religion

One of the important but complicated features of Judaism is its stress on one's relationship both with God and with man.  Tefillin, ritual activites, kashrut, all these things are important but so is tzedakah, loshon horo, and being honest in one's business dealings.  In fact, the biggest divide between Orthodox and Reformative might not be so much observant vs non-observant as emphasis on ben adam l'makom vs ben adam l'chavero.
However, even in this regard the Reformatives do tend to fall a little short.  It's one thing to have a lousy approach to the two sides as many in the frum world tend to have.  It's another to simply write off one side and emphasze select mitzvos as the entirety of the religion as the Reformatives often do.
However, it also seems that this is a consequence of the general religious malaise around us.  If there's one thing that North American society values in religion, it's a sense of self-centredness.  The concept is simple:
1) God wants me to be happy
2) "X" makes me happy.
3) God wants me to have "X"
For many in the Jewish community who have not been raised in an observant atmosphere this approach can sometimes lead an otherwise honest seeker of Jewish connection astray.  Consider this article from The National Post on the newest "synagogue" in downtown Toronto:
A new style of Judaism is being preached from behind a pint glass at Pauper’s Pub on Bloor Street. It’s about 45 minutes after a free discussion group met to dissect the Torah over coffee and the spiritual leaders of the Annex Shul, the city’s most radical new synagogue, are laying out their philosophy.

“Our founders believed that the shuls in Toronto were too traditional, and there was a formality there that they couldn’t connect with,” says Scott McGrath, the temple’s gay 37-year-old chairman, who dresses like an advertising executive and works as a social worker and life coach. Mentioning McGrath’s sexuality matters only to illustrate his temple’s motto: “Come as you are, make it yours,” which, so far, at least 300 people have done at the four-year-old synagogue’s largest events. “When was the last time downtown Toronto built a new shul?”
The question seems to turn over in the mind of Yacov Fruchter, the temple’s 28-year-old spiritual leader, who is working on both his rabbinical certification and his pint of beer. Fruchter, who moved with his wife from Montreal to the Bloor and Bathurst area in 2009, is frumpy and enthusiastic. He is also the same age as the majority of his flock.
“We’re trying to present something that kids themselves can find to create a new and meaningful Jewish experience,” says Fruchter, who wears a pink kippah and last worked as the director of emerging campuses at the United Israel Appeal. “We don’t offer one opinion. Our desire is to make everyone feel comfortable who walks through our door.”
McGrath breaks down the temple’s mission more simply. He says: “We want to be a home for all Jews.”

Oddly enough, there is one important group of Jews that won't feel comfortable joining this little chaburah, the ones who actually practice genuine Judaism.  We can't daven in such an environment and odds are the food isn't very kosher either.  So much for their chief aspiration.
Here is the concept at work.  These folks, despite being assimilated, still have what the Sfas Emes called the pintele Yid, the Jewish spark that lies deep in their slumbering souls.  On a primal level they seek a connection with Judaism.  On a conscious level their desire to access a religion that will ask them for no sacrifice, no change in lifestyle, no hard thinking about possible conflicts between religious ethics and Western liberal amoralism, leads them to create these kinds of congregations.  It allows them to say they belong to a synagogue, they engage in Jewish rituals and they are part of the Jewish nation.
Unfortunately it's all a lie whether they want to realize it or not.  The core beliefs and rituals that make up Judaism are not negotiable for those who don't feel like they connect to them or that they're too stultifying.  You can have a free, abstract personality but you still have to daven three times a day.  You may love contemplating God by looking at a beautiful sunset but you still have to learn.  It's part of the package and it's not up for redefinition.
The real shame is that many of these folks are sincere in their desire to connect even though they don't realize that they're doing it all wrong.  In a society that allows everyone to claim membership wherever they want regardless of accepting the responsibility that comes with it, why would they think Judaism is different?

Thursday 14 April 2011

An Image To Maintain

Matzav recently reprinted a piece from The Forward on the recent exploits of one Naama Shafir, a university-level Israeli basketball player playing for the University of Toledo.  The story is one that warms the heart of the right person.  A young Jewish girl, observant by background, leads her team to its first championship win.  Read further and the article is even more inspiring.  The championship game was on Shabbos so afterwards the young lady separated from her team and walked home so as not to violate Shabbos laws.  Furthermore her team has worked hard to accomodate her, allowing her to wear a more tzanuah version of the standard uniform, making sure she has kosher food wherever she goes and ensuring that there are no practices on Shabbos.
All in all quite inspiring.
What was not so inspiring were the responses from the Matzav comment gallery, predictably the "she's not really Orthodox" variety.  Now given the closed environment that most Matzav readers live in, it's not entirely suprising.   Many in the frum community have a strong interest in creating a definite image of what observant people look and act like. Anything that deviates from their narrow image but still claims to be observant is a threat to their "If you're Orthodox you must look and act like us" agenda. If this girl wasn't frum this story would simply not have appeared on Matzav.  They wouldn't care about any ol' non-religious Jewish girl playing basketball, but because she actually observes Shabbos but doesn't wear a semi-burka and speak Yeshivish while eschewing sports and physical fitness she is a threat.
Although she doesn't realize it, Ms. Shafir is actually a threat not only to the Matzav crowd but also to secular Zionism.  As opposed to many in the Chareidi community who are insistent on the old-fashioned look, many in the secular community insist that Zionism was about creating the "new Jew", one freed from the religious restrictions of old Europe and as physically active and materialistic as any in the non-Jewish world.  Ms. Shafir, by working to balance excellence in her sport with a commitment to frum living has shown that one can be both without sacrificing either. 
A woman like her should be celebrated, not scorned.

Tuesday 12 April 2011

Rediscovering the Already Discovered

As Pesach approaches, the Jewish internet is once again starting to fill up with articles on the meaning of the holiday.  What I've always found amusing is the take on things that comes out of the non-religious portion of our nation.  Just like Channukah, a holiday celebrating the victory of religious zealots over non-religious ones, has been turned into a gift-giving festival of "religious freedom", Passover continues to be presented as a holiday of liberation from physical slavery without any further dimensions.
Let us be clear: Pesach is not about the simple liberation from slavery we and our ancestors experienced in ancient Egypt.  While the narrative from the first part of sefer Shmos is the basic foundation of the Seder and the customs surrounding the holiday, the meaning of Pesach is much deeper.
In fact, when it's properly understand once quickly realizes that there was, in toto, no real liberation at all during Pesach.  Instead, the ruling authority in our lives changes.  We were slaves to Pharoah in Egypt.  We became servants of God post-Egypt.  Before, Pharoah's evil laws ruled the totality of our lives.  After, God's Holy Torah gave us a new, more meaningful direction.
Thus when people speak about yetzias Mitzrayim and try to bring modern parallels, I usually roll my eyes.
Far beyond the Jewish community, it has influenced not only the religious traditions of Christianity and Islam, but also the life of black America and many modern secular liberation movements rooted in class, nation, culture and gender. It has even influenced efforts to free and heal the Earth from destructive exploitation.
The pharaoh motif invoked in news coverage of the recent Egyptian upheaval that overthrew President Hosni Mubarak was due certainly not only to geographic accident, but also to the nature of tyranny and popular resistance.
And the issues are not only macro-political, but apply also to the spiritual and psychological struggles of individual human beings confronting their own "internal pharaohs,” when one aspect of the self takes over the whole person, twisting and perverting a person’s humanity by turning other facets of the self into slaves that yearn for freedom and full integration.
Note that none of the examples in this excerpt from the JTA article actually fit into the Pesach story.  Modern liberation movements, be they black, gay or whatever, generally work towards freedom from oppressive laws or societies.  This is a goal towards something negative - removal of an evil set of circumstances.  However, it is a rare event for any of these movements to work towards something positive, the establishment of something new and different.  For many of these movements the goal is simply total integration into the surrounding society that has hitherto exluded them.
The Pesach experience is actually the opposite of such experiences.  Yes, there was the removal of the negative - an ending to physical slavery to Pharoah, but there was also the positive - not simply remaining as Egyptian Jews or Jewish Egyptians - but rather the creation of a new society with a new morality and understanding of the purpose of creation, a society that would remain apart from others while developing to serve as an inspiration those those around them. 
When we sit at the Seder table next week, we start off by saying Avadim hayinu - we were slaves - but go on to say that God then brought us close to Him.  It is the positive result that is the real focus of Pesach, servitude to almighty God and all the goodness such offers.  If we forget that, we forget the point of the holiday no matter how much we try to make it seem "relevant".

Sunday 10 April 2011

A Good Idea, The Right Type of Hagadah

One of the reasons Torah Judaism clashes with Western secular liberalism is because of the value it places on roles.  Only a kohen can serve in the Temple.  Men have certain duties, women have others.  Crossing over is generally either not encouraged or flat out forbidden.  As opposed to the more egalitarian vision of the West, Judaism encourages a team approach with each member knowing his/her roles.
One of the areas this is less obvious is on Pesach night during the Seder.  The hagaddah, with its timeless narrative, is actually a very gender and role neutral book.  There are two characters: God and Israel.  The story is one of the former liberating the latter from spiritual slavery and inducting it into Divine service.  In terms of secondary characters, only one is mentioned and he, Moshe Rabeinu a"h, only gets a brief sideways mention.  The hagaddah is definitely about God and the nation of Israel.
This hasn't stopped revisionists over the years who have no real understanding (or a superficial one at best) of the Seder from trying to reinvent the ritual to their liking.  Most famous amongst these are the efforts by various feminists over the last several decades to recreate the hagaddah in their own image.  Unfortunately the reality they live in is one consumed by gender warfare, a never-ending struggled between "he" and "she" in which "he" is the never ending oppressor and "she" is always struggling to overcome violent oppression.
Is it any wonder then that in the view of such folks the hagaddah would be seen as a "male" document exluding women and role their played in the Exodus?  Is it any wonder that multiple versions of the same type of hagaddah have appeared over the years that try to correct this perceived imbalance?
And is it any wonder that they all miss the point of Pesach?  After all, as I've noted before the theme of Pesach isn't simply liberation from an oppressive tyrant but entry into God's service through the acceptance of His Torah.  The narrow "he" vs "she" ideology with its visions of endless gender warfare (after all, if it ends, so do their funding grants) is opposed to this positive vision of spiritual growth from material limitation.
Fortunately there is now a woman's haggadah I can endose, the Haggadah L'Beit Yaakov.  Any new haggadah published these days has to ask: how does this add to the Jewish experience on Pesach?  This hagaddah answers the question by focusing on the descendants of those who left Egypt and continued in the traditions received at Sinai.  It is a positive expression of how the liberation from Egypt resulted in and continues to produce people committed to the Divine service and values of the Torah.  If one can learn how to be a better Jew(ess) from these stories then this Haggadah has served its purpose for men and women alike.
By all means, bring the feminine into the Seder but do it as tradition dictates, through the extolling of Torah-based virtues and actions.

Who To Believe?

One of the major problems in the Chareidi community is that, hand in hand with the recent trend in semi-deification of their "Gedolim" has come unprecedented power in the hands of the askanim who form an inner circle around each of these rabbonim.  For years now it has become very clear that these askanim are driving the Chareidi leadership's agenda in various areas and presenting their own views above rubber stamped "Gadol" signatures.  From the Slifkin ban to the Shmeltzer ban and so on, it's fairly obvious that the Chareidi leaders are either being misinformed by their askanim or being grossly misrepresented.  No less an authority than Rav Eliashiv has said that anything said in his name can be safely ignored unless actually heard from him personally.  On the other hand, Rav Kanievsky has stated that he'll sign anything his colleagues sign, even if he has no idea what the issue's about.
And now, as if no further proof were needed, comes the latest kol koreh from "the Gedolim"(TM). 
Ultra-Orthodox leaders are calling on the religious public not to volunteer in Magen David Adom, claiming that serving in the rescue organization leads to serious religious prohibitions and leads to spiritual danger.
The sector's newspapers published an ad signed by senior haredi leaders, including leader of the Lithuanian faction Rabbi Shalom Elyashiv, Rabbis Nissim Karelitz, Chaim Kanievsky, Aharon Leib Shteinman, the Sanz and Erlau Rebbes and others
This is clearly a difficult situation.  Magen David Adom is an amazing and important organization, which goes without saying.  Here are people who live the Jewish ethic of loving life, providing pikuach nefesh services every day of the year.  Can there be any more valuable work that what these honourable men and women do?  Can anyone even guess at the reward they are earning in Heaven for the efforts they make in this world?  How could any Rav criticize such a group of people and forbid his followers to assist in their endeavours?
Read the article carefully and once again the usual clues come out.  The self-righteous language, the concern about the spiritual "purity" of the Chareidi communty and the fact that the announcement came not directly from the mouths of the "Gedolim" listed but in a signed declaration.  This is definitely the work of the chasidei Shoteh, the askanim that are running the affairs of their leaders.
All this forces one to make a difficult decision: either to criticize the "Gedolim" for attacking the efforts of Magen David Adom or to conclude that their words can now and in the future be safely ignored unless head personally.

Monday 4 April 2011

The Useful Idiot Wisens Up

From the start it was obvious that Judge Richard Goldstone's condemnation of Israel's 'Aza operation a couple of years ago was an anti-Israel joke.  Long on lies and short on facts, it became the paper hammer which the Jew-haters of the international community used to bash Israel with in response to its legitimate right to defend its citizens.  That the author was a prominent Jewish figure only made the report that much more valuable to them.  An Arab or European writing the same thing could easily be attacked as anti-Semitic but how could the same accusation be labelled against a liberal Jew?
Yet recently the news has broken that Judge Goldstone, after a couple of years of condemnation by his kinfolk, has finally come to his senses and realized that he was used by the international community to attack his own people.  Yes, while the rest of us always knew that Israel had the right to attack those who were pelting its citizens with rockets and missles, the intellectual Goldstone took his time to come to the realization that he was, in VI Lenin's classic phrase, an useful idiot.
This admission will, of course, not make the major Western or MiddleEastern news outlets, you know the ones that still talk about the "Jenin massacre" and how the Arabs were "driven out" by the Zionists in 1948.  They will continue to use the Goldstone report as a cornerstone in their ongoing attacks on Israel.
No, the real frustration is going to be for those of us on the right.  Once again we have an example of how leftist self-delusional dreams are just that: nocturnal fantasies.  The idea that there is a peace partner on the other side, that its suffering is not self-inflicted, that Israel is the big bag ogre of the region, has once again been proven to be the rantings of a cabal of Jew-haters.  The left is wrong, their ideals are misplaced and their understanding of what is happening in and to Israel is based on misunderstanding and falsehood.  And once again we on the right are forced to listen to their bafflegab as they attempt to talk their way out of this.
That's the frustrating part - that Goldstone was wrong and only now after having done so much damage does anyone on the left realize this.

And Party Every Day!

Sometimes it's hard to be a music fan.  I was always a big fan of Genesis until I, like lots of others it seems, heard the stories about Phil Collins being a rapid Jew hater and anti-Zionist.  For a while I stopped listening to my Genesis records but fortunately cooler heads have detailed how this story was always just an urban myth.
Unfortunately the same can't be said of the former bassist and songwriter of my favourite band, Pink Floyd.  Unlike Collins, Roger Waters is more than happy to go on record as anti-Zionist in a very virulent way.  Whether it's attacking Israel's right to defend itself from terrorists or portraying Israel in vile war-mongering ways during concerts, Waters has made no secret of his hatred of Israel.  I don't doubt that if he were confronted he'd insist that he's not a Jew hater.  In fact, some of his best friends are probably Jews (who also hate Israel, 'natch).
Fortunately there is one band whose leader I can still appreciate, even if I've never owned any of their albums or heard more than a few of their songs.  Gene Simmons, the demon guitarist of Kiss and Israeli by birth, has stood up to the recent spate of idiot celebrities who have, in their deluded piety, announced that they will boycott Israel on upcoming tours.  Unlike them, Simmons has taken a recent opportunity to come home and show his love for the country he left as a child:
Simmons, wearing dark sunglasses and black pants, shirt and blazer, laced the interview with Hebrew phrases. "Where were you born?" he asked in somewhat halting but serviceable Hebrew.
He made local headlines during Israel's 2006 war against Hebzollah by sending a televised message to a wounded Israeli soldier, calling him a "hero."
Simmons co-founded Kiss in the 1970s and became famous for wearing white and black face makeup, spitting fire and coughing up fake blood at sold-out performances. The group has sold some 100 million records, and four decades later, it remains one of the best-selling concert draws.
Simmons also presides over a business empire that includes his reality show, TV, game show and movie appearances, video games, books, comics and a Kiss credit card. His net worth is estimated to be in the tens, perhaps hundreds, of millions of dollars. 
Simmons insisted that his busy schedule has been the only reason he never made it back to Israel before.
"America allowed me to climb the highest levels of success, and I never wanted to stop. When you reach the top, you can rest," he said.
"I've reached the top."
I'm not a big fan but it must be recognized that Kiss, through its music but even more importantly its marketing has cemented itself as one of the top rock music acts of all time.  Almost every music artist that is considering boycotting Israel is second rate when compared to Simmons and his friends.  His support is a welcome breath of air in the poisonous gas that the Western gliterati is tryin to spew on Israel these days.