Saturday, December 26, 2009

Goodbye to the "Decade From Hell" and good riddance #leaveitinthe00s

Christmas has come and gone and soon New Years will come and go as well...taking with it the 2000's and all the misery they contained. I recently came across an article in Time Magazine entitled The '00s: Goodbye (at Last) to the Decade from Hell, which I shared with my Twitter followers. What follows here were my stream-of-conscience thoughts on the article that I posted after reading it. I would definitely recommend reading the article before continuing.

Aside from the fact that I assumed people reading my twitter updates had read it when I posted them, I found it to be pretty eye-opening. It also confirmed much of what I had been saying about the 2000's for a long time. Specifically that such a constant, nightmare string of calamities could not have been created just within the span of 10 years. Nor were these calamities restricted to war and terrorism. This decade was the manifestation of a bill finally coming due for a previous 50 years of over-borrowing/spending.

Please excuse any typos or spelling mistakes as this was all written out in real-time and has not been edited except to add relevant links to past posts.

Here's to next year, next decade and hopefully some real changes, not just hollow political nonsense...


Goodbye to the "Decade from Hell" #leaveitinthe00s 10:56 AM
One thing that article got absolutely right: the disasters of the 2000s were created by our own neglect in previous decades #leaveitinthe00s 10:57 AM
President #Bush has taken so much of the blame for what happened during his administration but if you pay attention... #leaveitinthe00s 10:58 AM'll see how much of bad things that happened this decade were ticking time bombs long before he got in office #leaveitinthe00s 10:58 AM
I've said for years that we should have seen 9/11 coming...with all the terror acts of the 1990's, the intifadas etc #leaveitinthe00s 10:59 AM
We as a nation lulled ourselves to sleep and thought the end of the Cold War was the "end of history" - well we were wrong #leaveitinthe00s 11:00 AM
Every calamity of this decade had its roots in our laziness, our failure to act and the naivete that came out of the 90's #leaveitinthe00s 11:02 AM
Our desperate, pathetic attempts to convince ourselves that we "won" and would live happily ever after is what created this monster decade 11:02 AM
But there is no "happily ever after" life. It's a fairy tale. Even after you win something you have to continue to progress #leaveitinthe00s 11:03 AM
Otherwise someone else is going to just swoop in and eat your lunch. And before you know it your victory has turned into a crushing defeat. 11:04 AM
This is exactly what happened this decade. We were raised to think that the world would inevitably be come peacer, safer #leaveitinthe00s
But it's an illusion. There is always something evil out there waiting for you let your guard down. #leaveitinthe00s 11:05 AM
American society must heed this, must learn from this and must address it or this may be remember as the CENTURY from Hell 11:06 AM
We cannot just sit back and assume things will go well for us because we're "right" or think we're doing "the right thing" #leaveitinthe00s 11:07 AM
There are bad people out there and there are bad people in here. We were chewed up by external AND internal forces #leaveitinthe00s 11:07 AM
The only way is to act in advance. To look down the road and not ASSUME the 18-wheeler is going to swerve out of our way #leaveitinthe00s 11:08 AM
To heed warnings not just write them off as alarmist. To be open-minded to the fact that we might be wrong. #leaveitinthe00s 11:10 AM
To look at OURSELVES and realize that WE ALL MAKE A DIFFERENCE. Our actions, no matter how small affect society. #leaveitinthe00s 11:13 AM
To realize we bury ourselves in Hollywood deaths and fad diets while a bunch of angry starving savages plot against us #leaveitinthe00s 11:14 AM

That we spend money on studying mating rituals of river trout in Louisiana while the New Orleans levees fall into disrepair #leaveitinthe00s 11:15 AM
And bridges collapse over the very Mississippi river we are studying #leaveitinthe00s 11:16 AM
We push banks to relax lending practices to inner cities while a bunch of crooks convince everyone to use their houses as credit cards 11:18 AM
We invest and invest and invest and invest and assume the stock market will always go higher and our home prices will to #leaveitinthe00s 11:19 AM
We pour thousands, millions, billions, TRILLIONS into industries that never turn a profit or when they do it's a house of cards 11:20 AM
We push the big evil corporations to make absurd deals with labor unions that foster laziness in designs and impossible-to-maintain costs 11:21 AM
Then we STOP BUYING THE CARS we made and instead buy cars produced by countries that do NOT force this fake morality on their corporations 11:23 AM
And we wonder why we are going out of business. We sit around and point fingers when news breaks of another bankruptcy. #leaveitinthe00s 11:23 AM
But we never look at ourselves. At our habits as Americans. At our pathetic, declining work ethic. #leaveitinthe00s 11:24 AM

At our stupid, naive world-view. We're a country that has the nerve to have over 50% of our citizens classified as "obese" #leaveitinthe00s 11:25 AM

While crying about world hunger. #leaveitinthe00s 11:25 AM
We want to cut down on illegal immigration but complain when a bottle of Tropicana goes up by 50 cents #leaveitinthe00s 11:26 AM
We want to embrace everyone as equals and treat them as friends, even as they hold knives to our throats...and our backs. #leaveitinthe00s 11:27 AM
We want faster, bigger, less efficient SUVs that clog up the highways but we shudder when the price of oil goes up #leaveitinthe00s 11:28 AM
We say we want peace and security and safety but ignore constant death threats and chaos for DECADES #leaveitinthe00s 11:30 AM
Then when we finally DO something about it we denigrate the effort and do everything we can to revert to our old ways! #leaveitinthe00s 11:31 AM
Do you want to know who to blame for the Decade from Hell? Look in the mirror. #leaveitinthe00s 11:31 AM
Do you know why #China, #Iran and #Russia (wait didn't we beat those guys in the 90's? ) are rising look in the mirror #leaveitinthe00s 11:32 AM
They rise and we fall because they WANT IT MORE BADLY then you do - they know the feeling of hunger you know the taste of Baby Ruths 11:33 AM

They know that actions have CONSEQUENCES. They know if they don't plant seeds in the Spring they'll have no food in the Winter. 11:35 AM
We Americans expect that something will always save us. The govt will bail us out. Stocks will rebound. Terrorists will learn to love us. 11:35 AM
Guess what! There are no guarantees in life. Something will not always save you. And often things that appear to only delay the inevitable. 11:37 AM
The only way to ensure that we never experience another decade like is by looking INTERNALLY at ourselves #leaveitinthe00s 11:37 AM
It's not GM's fault they went bankrupt - it's OUR SOCIETY'S fault for propping them up and supporting their stupid business model for years 11:38 AM
It's not the govt's fault that the economy collapsed it's OUR FAULT for electing ppl who were as naive as we were to make decisions for us! 11:39 AM
It's not the bankers' fault that we're defaulting on our loans - it's OUR fault for buying houses we could never afford! #leaveitinthe00s 11:39 AM
It's not #Bush's fault that a massive hurricane slammed into New Orleans, it's OUR FAULT for neglecting the city's defenses for YEARS! 11:41 AM
It's not the CIA and FBI'S fault they didn't see 9/11 coming it's OUR FAULT for foolishly thinking the world was safe... 11:41 AM
...and electing people who cut our defense and INTEL budgets and foolishly shared in our naivete! #leaveitinthe00s 11:42 AM
We must realize that world events do not happen in a vacuum, that our actions have CONSEQUENCES 11:43 AM
If our govt screws up it's because we ELECTED THEM to represent us and make our decisions for us - democracy means we're never off the hook 11:44 AM
You want freedom? You want input on national issues and decision-making? This is the price. You must take responsibility for yourselves. 11:44 AM
We MUST look inwardly to be critical of our own social norms and assumptions and make REAL CHANGES to our habits #leaveitinthe00s 11:46 AM
Only then will we have ANY HOPE of not repeating this, this awful, terrible, Decade from Hell that we created for ourselves #leaveitinthe00s 11:47 AM


Go ahead and ponder that, as you're drinking yourselves into oblivion next week and making resolutions that you'll abandon by February. I know I will...

Here's hoping the 10's will be remembered as the "Decade of self-responsibility" where we undo these mistakes and finally start acting like grown-ups.

Have a happy New Year everyone and be safe.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Who will retell the triumphs of Israel? Not Radio Hanukkah, that's for sure

Hanukkah is the festival of lights,
Instead of one day of presents, we have eight crazy nights.
--Adam Sandler, The "Hanukkah" Song

Over the past few days I have had the indescribable delight of listening to "Radio Hanukkah" on Sirius/XM satellite radio. After almost a week of listening to 500,000 different versions of "Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel" and "Oh Chanuka, Oh Chanuka as well as nonsensical Hanukkah parodies of Christmas songs like "Feliz Hanukkah" and "The 8 Days of Hannukkah", reality hit me harder than a menorah to the forehead...

The holiday alternately known as Chanuka, Hannukkah, Hannuka or any of 10,000 other English spellings is a very different holiday in the United States than it is in Israel.

While both versions result in the same essential practices (lighting candles, eating fried potatoes, dairy foods and donuts, etc) the attitude toward these practices vary tremendously.

Everyone knows the story of this most important Jewish holiday of the year right? The dreidel-spinning Jewish hippies of ancient Palestine (actually JUDEA) needed to light their freedom-lamp but only had enough oil to last one day...lo and behold there was a miracle and it lasted for not one...but eight craaaaaazy nights! I think that reggae rabbi guy from Letterman - what's his name? Matty something right? - might have had something to do with it. And hey look at this, it happened right around that OTHER festival of lights...CHRISTMAS! What a wonderful coincidence! Let's all have a party and go shopping like our wreath-toting Christian brethren, it's perfect! Don't worry little Jakey, your friend Anthony may get a ton of presents on the 25th, but you'll get a new toy EIGHT NIGHTS IN A ROW! Oy vey? Fuhgetaboutit!

Or at least that's the American version of Chanuka.

First of all, if you read that version of the story and didn't find anything wrong with it, please click here immediately and read about the Maccabean revolt, the advent of guerrilla warfare in the Middle East and a potential screenplay for the most violent warrior movie since Braveheart.

They may take our lives, but they'll never take our...bagels...

But wait a minute. You're telling me that JEWS used to fight like William Wallace and the rest of those crazy Scotsmen? How can that be when today's Jews are caricatures of caricatures like Jon Stewart and Sarah Silverman? They're supposed to be docile and neurotic like Woody Allen, not brave and unpredictable like King Leonidas. I've never seen an accountant or investment banker impale a war elephant or lead an army of savages in brutal hand-to-hand combat! How can this be? This doesn't fit the stereotype of the American Jew by any stretch of anyone's imagination!

For whatever reasons you choose to subscribe to, in the United States any symbol of Jewish strength is regularly downplayed in favor of an image of a nebbishy weasel who would rather eat gefilte fish in peace and quiet than stand up and be proud of his multi-millennia-old culture. Whereas in Israel, Chanuka is celebrated essentially as a national (as well as religious) holiday commemorating an astonishing military triumph of impossible America we get Radio Hanukkah and light festivals. Take for example this Chanuka song - popular in Israel but almost unheard of in America:

מי ימלל גבורות ישראל
אותן מי ימנה
הן בכל דור יקום הגיבור
גואל העם
בימים ההם בזמן הזה
מכבי מושיע ופודה
ובימינו כל עם ישראל
יתאחד, יקום ויגאל

Who can retell the triumphs of Israel?
Who can count them?
In every generation will a arise a hero...
To save the nation
In those days, during this time
A Maccabee brought salvation and redemption
And in our days the whole nation of Israel...
Will unite, arise and be saved!

In fact, we're so neutered in the United States that even when this song DOES appear, as it does in this Wikipedia entry or this absolutely absurd version on Youtube they REMOVE the references to triumph and strength and even Israel entirely. Why?!

And so, instead of songs about strength and valor and victory we get such mindless, asinine stupidity as this (heard today on Radio Hanukkah on my way to work):

On the eighth night of Hanukkah, my true love gave to me
8 Alka- Seltzer
7 noodle kugels
6 pickled herrings
5 bowls of chicken soup
4 potato latkes
3 pounds of corned beef
2 Kosher pickles and
Lox, bagels and some cream cheese

I swear to God, if I hear one more person try to define their "Jewishness" by referring to chicken soup and brisket and oy vey I may actually stuff a dreidel down their throat. The worst thing though, is that I've heard Jews listening to this garbage and laughing along with it - hell for almost two weeks every year there's an entire station on satellite radio dedicated to it!

This entire holiday's foundation was an open rebellion against quiet assimilation, where a small group of determined Jewish warriors who were proud enough of their culture and heritage to fight for it upended an empire! Of all of the Jewish holidays this is the ONLY one that actually celebrates a military victory. The ONLY one!

And what do we do with it? We turn it into nothing more than a politically correct, assimilated, muddled excuse to make ourselves feel like we're not missing out on Christmas presents. How materialistic. How shallow. How pathetic.

But it is this need to blend that is endemic in American Jewish culture and has been for decades as the Kahanists will (repeatedly) remind you. It only makes sense that we would turn a proud celebration of military strength (with God's help) and cultural preservation (through self-determination) into Radio Hanukkah. And we wonder why the rest of the world looks at us as nerdy sellouts with no pride who deserve to be mocked at every opportunity. We don't DESERVE to get upset when someone throws an anti-Jewish stereotype at us, because we perpetuate them EVERY CHANCE WE CAN. We should be ashamed of ourselves.

Eight crazy nights indeed.

So please...if you didn't know before what this holiday was really about...please...get the "Hanukkah bush" out of your house and throw out those clever little "Chrismukka" cards you thought you would dazzle your friends at work with. Light your candles tonight knowing that people fought and died so that you would have the freedom to eat your latkes and spin your dreidels and do whatever else it is that you choose to do to celebrate your heritage. How about next year, Radio Hanukkah actually plays some music that makes us feel PRIDE in our culture instead of this dreck they're force-feeding us 24/8?

And finally, if you aren't Jewish and reading this, PLEASE believe me when I tell you that there's more to us and our religion than latkes and Manishevitz.

Chag sameach everyone.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Not-so-strange bedfellows: Rutgers University and the Palestine Children's Relief Fund

Just in case you hadn't already gotten your fill of appeasers and terrorist enablers this year, we have a story right out of that bastion of tolerance known as the United States college campus.

The following post was contributed by Tali, a regular reader of this blog and Rutgers University student. It was submitted to the Rutgers daily newspaper, the Daily Targum and (SHOCKINGLY) subsequently denied publication.

To give you some background on the topic, Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey has a semi-annual "Meal Sign Away" program... which Rutgers students can donate the cost of their guests’ meals toward a prearranged charitable fundraiser.

This year, the "charitable fundraiser" that was chosen was the "Palestine Children's Relief Fund" - an organization that according to Rutgers (and themselves) is

a non-political, non-profit organization dedicated to fighting the medical and humanitarian crisis facing children in the Middle East.

To illustrate this, PCRF has loads of smiling children on their website to remind you of the beautiful work they do in "Palestine" and the rest of the Middle East.

Peace signs are cute and all...too bad in the Middle East this isn't a peace sign, it's a victory sign...

Now bear in mind, the mere fact that they refer to themselves as the Palestine Children's Relief Fund is in itself a pretty major political statement. Since there is no sovereign state of Palestine as of this printing, by referring to themselves in this fashion as opposed to, for example, the Palestinian Children's Relief fund, by default they are declaring their allegiance to a country that does not exist. Political and controversial, no doubt. But I can hardly say it as well as Tali did in her letter, which follows below:


Recently, the Rutgers University Student Assembly made a controversial decision by granting its semi-annual Meal Sign Away fundraising program to the Palestine Children's Relief Fund. When concerns were raised to the body regarding this decision, the body chose not to reconsider its original decision. Given the political nature of the PCRF, both the original decision and the decision not to reconsider it are ill-advised, and fail to serve the best interests of the Rutgers community.

The PCRF is a non-profit organization that claims to be non-political. Proponents of the PCRF have said that it is a strictly humanitarian organization and not a political one. When you consider the facts, however, claims that the organization is non-political couldn't be further from the truth. An examination of the organization’s activities reveals that political activism is a leading part of the PCRF’s mission.

Last year, the PCRF held a fundraising dinner dance right here in New Brunswick. Billed on the invitation as an "esteemed guest speaker" at the event was Stephen Walt, controversial co-author of a notoriously biased book entitled The Israel Lobby and American Foreign Policy. Walt's book demonizes Israel and rationalizes terrorism against it. It paints any lobbying effort on behalf of Israel as inimical and follows the mold of many historic instances of anti-Jewish conspiracy theories by painting Jews as having excessive power and influence. Regardless of your opinion on Walt or his book, it is undeniable that this issue is one of intense and heated political debate. How is this non-political?

Also last year, the PCRF co-sponsored a conference organized by the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center. Sabeel is a Palestinian Christian organization known for using theological arguments to generate hostility against Israel, often using thinly veiled analogies tying Jews to the crucifixion of Jesus. Their conferences, such as the one co-sponsored by the PCRF, are overtly political and known for their anti-Israel themes. How is this non-political?

Most appalling, however, is how the PCRF has used the very children it serves as props to fulfill its blatant political agenda.

The organization brought two of the children that came to the United States for medical care, Salam Safi and Badwan Abu-Mayaleh, to the "United for Al-Quds" conference in San Francisco. This event described the children as "victims of Israeli brutality," as described in an article in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. A leading speaker at the event was Imam Amir Abdul Malik Ali, a man who has publicly blamed Israel for the September 11 attacks. Is this non-political?

RUSA has historically shied away from taking stances on issues that may be even slightly political. The very same body that wouldn't take a stance on the New Brunswick wards issue suddenly became willing to take sides in a highly sensitive international conflict. Something just doesn't add up.

While students "sign-away" their meals at their own discretion, at the end of the day, the check that the PCRF will receive for the aggregate sum collected will be signed by Rutgers and endorsed by its student governing body. Considering the nature of the organization, this is unacceptable. Regardless of where you stand on the issues involved, RUSA should not be endorsing an organization that promotes and advocates for any political agenda.

There are many organizations that help Palestinian children without any controversy or political agenda. Some even work with Israeli hospitals in a spirit of non-political, peaceful cooperation. RUSA's decision to select the PCRF and its refusal to reconsider their decision is yet another example of the organization's failure of leadership. Rutgers students, we deserve better than the PCRF and RUSA.

Tali R. is a Rutgers University undergrad working towards her degree in Economics and Political Science


I don't know about you, but I was sold when I visited their homepage and saw that Jimmy Carter was a major proponent of theirs.

In any case, while Tali's well-written letter was rejected by the Targum, TWO letters in defense of the PCRF were not. One of them was penned by the chairman of the Rutgers University PCRF chapter and the other by a Rutgers alumnus and peace activist. Wow, what stunningly fair journalism! In fact the only Targum report on the topic that was critical of the decision came from a regular writer who would no doubt scream censorship (and justifiably so) if his article was denied.

So instead of having an honest debate we have a chorus of "liberal" activists who scream about diversity and understanding even as they shout down or shut out the opinions of those that disagree with them.

But it's nothing new and it isn't likely to change anytime in the near future. Luckily for the pro-Israel/Jewish/Zionist community at Rutgers there are voices like Tali's that are brave enough to rise above the rhetoric and ridiculous accusations and are willing to speak up for what's right. And we'll continue to give them a podium here when the mainstream refuses to.

Keep it going guys.