Sunday, September 30, 2012

Bnei Anusim identity

The following letter appeared in The Jerusalem Post on Sept. 24, 2012:
I read with interest the article "Crisis of identity" (Frontlines Sept 21) and would like to point out that the State of Israel uses the criteria under the Law of Return that anyone who is one quarter Jewish (i.e. has one Jewish grandparent) or who is married legally to a Jew can be considered Jewish for the purpose of aliyah. 
There is currently a problem in relation to the Bnei Anusim (Marranos or Secret Jews) who are "coming out of the closet" in many areas of the Spanish-Portuguese speaking world.  Many still regard themselves as Jews and want to reunite with their people, but are not accepted as Jews by the Rabbinate and consequently are denied residence in Israel under the Law of Return. 
This is a terrible inconsistency, some of these people have adhered to their Jewish identity for 500 years under the most oppressive of circumstances.  We owe it to them that they be allowed to make aliyah at least under the same conditions as the residents of the former Soviet Union and other minority groups such as the Bnei Israel from India, Ethiopian Jews and the Falash Mura. 
Jack Cohen

The following letter appeared in The Jerusalem Post Magazine, Sept. 28, 2012:
We would like to congratulate Rabbi Stewart Weiss (In plain language, Sept 14, 2012) for addressing the issue of the Marranos.
In his piece he makes the statement that "Columbus set sail for the New World, declaring on his triumphal exit that none of the lands he would discover were to be used for the Jew or the non-believer."  In fact, there is much evidence to the contrary, to indicate that Columbus himself was a Marrano or Secret Jew. 
There is no space here to go into all the evidence here, but consider this; 1. In his letters to his family and friends he wrote a small design in the top corner of the letters which puzzled his biographers, but has been found to be a Hebrew abbreviation for Baruch hashem (God's blessing) used by Marranos to communicate between themselves; 2.  He made mistakes in the Spanish that have been attributed to his Genoese (Italian) origin, but in fact have been shown by linguists to be of Catalan origin; 3. Can it be coincidence that he sailed in 1492, the very same year of the expulsion of the Jews from Spain, and that many Secret Jews indeed were able to escape Spain and the Inquisition as a result of his discovery of the New World. 
In fact, there is an exhibition pointing out the Jewish connections of Columbus (Christobal Colon) that was assembled by Elie Schalit and that was opened in Madrid by the King and Queen of Spain in 1992 on the 500th anniversary of the expulsion of the Jews from Spain and toured to five other Spanish cities.
Casa Shalom, the Institute for Marrano-Anusim Studies, has donated its extensive library on this subject to Netanya Academic College to form the basis of the International Institute for the Study of Secret Jews (Anusim).  Elie Schalit has also donated his Columbus Exhibition to the College and the College is planning to construct a Columbus Center on land donated by the Netanya Municipality.  As part of this development it is also proposed to establish a Collection of Sephardic and Anusim Music. If any readers are interested in assisting these programs please contact the College or Casa Shalom via their respective websites.
Yours sincerely
Jack Cohen, Netanya and Neil Davis, Herzliya (London) Members of Boards of Casa Shalom and the IISSJ

Friday, September 28, 2012

The UN speeches

I watched Pres. Obama's speech at the 67th annual UN General Assembly meeting in NY with some astonishment.  It was like a teacher speaking to some errant pupils.  He acknowleged that violence is wrong, and that killing Amb. Christopher Stevens was a mistake (after all he was  friend of the Arabs), but there was none of the real emotion that one should express when wronged.  He was not furious or enraged.  He referred to American's first amendement principle of freedom of speech, but only in passing.  And of course, he stressed that the so-called anti-Muslim video was wrong and that the United States had nothing to do with it.  But, in the minds of devout and extremist Muslims it makes no difference.  They still plan to attack the USA and nothing that Obama said will change that.  Well, maybe nothing can be said to change that, but I and many others would have preferred a more strident warning, you attack our Embassy and kill our Ambassador and we will hunt you down and kill you and all connected to you!  That might make them think twice.
In relation to Iran, Obama was more explicit than in his UN speech last year, when he warned Iran (and N. Korea) that if they continue their nuclear programs "the time was not unlimited."  This year he stated that the US "will do what it must" to prevent a nuclear Iran.  But, that still left some "wiggle room" for Iran, after all it is not an explicit threat of military action and Iran doesn't respond to subtlety.  Pres. Ahmedinejad in his last speech at the UN (he retires next year) was less bloodthirsty that previously, he toned it down a bit, but he claimed that Iran was under threat from "uncivilized Zionists."  He called for peace and justice and then claimed that the Western powers were in the service of "the devil."
Pres. Morsi of Egypt spoke for the first time at the UN.  He said that he was the first civilian elected President of Egypt and he intends to do things differently.  He intends to steer an independent course for Egypt and also that Egypt will lead a resurgence in Arab affairs.  He stated that Pres Assad of Syria must be replaced and that Syria will be a friendly country to Egypt and he is against any foreign military intervention in Syria (I suppose he is hoping that the Muslim Brotherhood will take over in Syria).  By contrast the representative of Qatar called for military intervention to topple Assad.  In his list of issues Morsi listed Palestine first, then Syria and ignored Iran.
In his speech at the UN Pres. Abbas of the PA gave a laundry list of indictments against Israel.  He pulled no punches trying to justify why he is taking the unilateral step to have Palestine recognized at the UN as a "non-member state."  He accused Israel of carrying out "ethnic-cleansing", and "war, occupation and settlement colonization."  If anyone looked for any peaceful intentions on the part of the Palestinians they would have been sorely disappointed.  He accused Israel of planning another catastrophe (nakba) for the Palestinians, and he rejected the Oslo Accords that established the PA as a "failure" and stated that Israel has undermined the "two-state solution."  He offered no olive branch to Israel, and he ignored the fact that Israel has recently provided large sums of tax payments to the PA, that have saved it from imminent bankruptcy, while the leadership skims millions of dollars from the foreign aid that props it up. 
PM Netanyahu in his speech focussed on Iran and the threat of Iran developing a nuclear bomb.  With a little show and tell he sought to instil a sense of imminent danger into the proceedings.  He pointed out that 10 years of diplomacy have not stopped Iran and 3 years of sanctions, although effective economically, have not stopped Iran in pursuing its nuclear program.  Time is runnign out and according to his diagram, Iran is already past the 70% stage in enriching enough uranium for a bomb (U-235) and will be at the 90% stage in about 6 months (based on IAEA data).  That is where the "red line" must be drawn, Iran cannot be allowed to pass that red line or we will all be in imminent danger. From that point, once they have that much enriched uranium it will be almost impossible to stop further progress towards Iran producing bombs (to read or see Netanyahu's speech go to  All in all a dire prediction, it seems either we will have war in 6 months to a year or the US must take steps to really threaten Iran to stop its progress in getting the bomb. This is putting pressure on Pres. Obama, but so far he does not seem to be taking the threat from Iran that seriously, leaving Israel to take the lead.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Save the gefilte fish

On Rosh Hashanah we eat honey for a sweet year.  Honey is really being depeleted and the price is rising. For mysterious reasons the bees are dying.  I am not joking, we need a "save the bees" campaign. This "colony collapse" is apparenty due to a mite called the Varroa mite that introduces a virus into the bee colony that results in deformed bees. The problem is that many flowers rely on bees for pollination, and without bees the whole flora situation could also collapse.  So we need pollinators, any offers? 
There is also a need for a public movement to "save the gefilte fish."  There are so many gefilte fish consumed during the chagim, that the sources are being depleted.  I for one restricted myself to eating only one gefilte before each meal (OK, I did have two on one occasion, but it was already dead).  We need to have a program to replenish the sources, to grow young gefilte fish and make sure that gefilte are not caught until they are fully grown.
The same applies to round cholas.  We normally eat long straight plaited cholas.  But, during the chagim, they pick only round cholas and so the trees are bare of them.  Since they are a minority of cholas there is a fear that as the population grows the delicious round cholas will become extinct.  We also need a movement for "save the round cholas."
You might think that I would also support a "save the pomegranate" campaign, since that is a symbolic fruit at this time of year.  But I detest this fruit, its impossible to eat because of the large seeds that take up half of the fruit and that get in your teeth.  So until they select a pomegranate that has small seeds I don't care how much they are harvested.  The only good pomegranate is a dead one. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Harvey's swan-song

While in the outside world there is much strife and uncertainty, here in Israel our life proceeds very smoothly.  One of our regular enjoyments has been a visit each month to Herzliya to hear a concert by the Herzliya Chamber Orchestra, founded and conducted by Harvey Bordowitz.  After 31 seasons he is retiring, and the orchestra, for reasons I do not know, is being disbanded.  Perhaps they could not find an adequate replacement or maybe the cost has become too much for the Municipality.  Last week we went to the final Farewell Concert given by Harvey and the Orchestra, free for long-time subscribers.  It was a great concert.
Harvey comes from Chicago and had international conducting experience before he came to Israel in 1976.  He is a small, balding bespectacled man with a lot of energy and looks very dapper in his bow tie and tails.  He has had some health problems and so now seemed the right time to retire.  He lives in Netanya and occasionally gives lectures about music. 
The Farewell Concert contained his personal selections, the last movement of the Italian Symphony by Mendelsohn, with its lively colorful depiction of sunny Italy, Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante for violin and viola, that has the exquisite duo competing and cooperating in one of the most beautiful musical pieces ever written, that was composed soon after the death of his mother, and the well-known and magnificent Fifth Symphony by Beethoven, which has that ineffable theme replayed in so many different variations.  For an encore they played the Nimrod theme from the Enigma Variations by Edward Elgar.  This Orchestra has reached an incrediby high level and it seemed to me that this was a perfect swan-song.  What a pity that good things cannot go on forever.
But, don't worry, we have purchased season tickets to the Kibbutz Orchestra that now plays in Netanya on a regular basis, and performs at the Netanya Cultural Center, so we will still have our monthly concert and less distance to go for it, it is 5 mins drive from home and ample parking.  Life continues smoothly along, while in the other world there is murder and mayhem.  Let's hope it stays there.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Counter attacks in Libya and Sinai

In a very unusual action last night the compounds of several armed extremist groups were stormed by mobs in Benghazi, Libya and they were trashed.  The terrorists were expelled and their offices and equipment were destroyed.  This included the Salafist Ansar al Sharia group and al Qaeda in the Maghreb that were thought to be responsible for the attack on the US Embassy on 9/11/12 that killed Ambassador Stevens and three other Americans.  This attack was carried out under cover of the riots against the publication in the US of the trailer for the movie "The Innocence of Muslims," that is considered to insult Mohammed. 
As far as I know this is the first time that a Muslim mob actually rioted against the extremists rather than with them. The mobs in this case were supported by armed Government soldiers.  Today the Libyan President Mohamed el-Magariaf announced a new policy, disbanding all militias and forbidding them to carry arms in public.  This is a necessary step for Libya to progress from its former civil war to a civil and civilized society.  The Libyan Government, which is the only one elected after the so-called Arab Spring that is not overtly extremist and allied to the Muslim Brotherhood, is flexing its muscles after the attack on the US Embassy, to try to take over control of Benghazi and the country.  We should all applaud this action of the Libyan Government.  However, it remains to be seen whether or not it will be able to impose itself successfully on the country given the presence of many large armed militias.  However, the first step proved successful, Ansar al Sharia announced that it is suspending activities in Libya.  A small victory for "our" side.
In Sinai, the Egyptian Government under Pres. Morsi is not having as much success.  They have attacked several extremist centers and supposedly killed 60 or so terrorists.  But, that didn't stop terrorists attacking and destroying a facility of the American monitors of the Israel-Egypt peace agreement in Sinai.  Also, three terrorists crossed the Israeli border yesterday where the new fence has not been finished and ambushing an IDF patrol that was giving water to some African migrants.  The IDF counter-attacked and killed all three of them, but not before one IDF soldier was killed and one was injured.  The dead soldier is Cpl. Netanel Yahalomi, who was buried this morning in Modi'in military cemetery. 
This kind of piece-meal counter-attack does not do much good when there are thousands of terrorists active in Sinai, some of them coming from Gaza.  Although it appears that Pres. Morsi is serious about retaking control of Sinai for the Egyptian Government, so far the results have not proved effective.  Can Israel afford to wait until this happens?  Two things are clear, the Israel-Sinai border fence must be finished soon and the IDF should not be used to provide water and other humanitarian aid to migrants, this should be done by others trained for the purpose.  Also, FM Lieberman announced that Israel will not agree to any changes in the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty.  This means that either Egypt must take control of Sinai with the arms that it has, or eventually the IDF will have to do it for them. 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Dangerous "isms"

In the history of the world there have been relatively few organizations that have been so dangerous as to constitute a threat to humanity.   One of the first was the Roman Empire , which although it brought "civilization" to much of the world, also brought its efficient and deadly army and subjugated or destroyed many indigenous peoples.  It was replaced in turn by the Roman Catholic Church that spread Christianity by the sword and massacred millions in the name of God, for example in Mexico and throughout the Americas.  Christianity, whatever its origins of supposed meekness and "turn the other cheek," became an arrogant belief system that was contempuous of the other.  Whole civilizations that were considered "inferior" were wiped out, including the Jews, and the Inquisition, that used Gestapo-like tactics, was used to destory all "heretical" opinions as well as to enrich the Church and the Catholic States (Spain, Portugal, Italy).  
Islam was not far behind, from its origins in Arabia it was spread by the sword and Mohammed himself led the charge.  He was considered the "seal" of the Prophets, meaning the last of the Biblical Prophets and Christ, and of course more important than all of them.  Such arrogance led to mass murder in the name of Allah and the conquest of a huge Empire from Morocco to Indonesia.  Since the Muslims made no distinction between religious and temporal power, the supposed religion became embroiled in many wars of conquest and destruction from Spain to India.
The European proclivity for imperial conquests, from England to Russia, found its apex in German ultra-nationalism, that led to Nazism under Hitler.  Combined with Fascist Italy under Mussolini and Imperial Japan as the Axis powers, they tried to take over the world by force, carrying out such horrendous crimes as the Holocaust against the Jews and the "Rape of Nanking" against the Chinese.  But, they were defeated by the democratic Allies and so Nazism and Fascism ceased to exist as such.  But, Communism, that started as a means to free "the masses" from exploitation by capitalism, ended as a truly malevolant force of suppression under Stalin, who massacred millions in order to maintain his control.  Even though Communism still exists in China and combined with Chinese nationalism could be a dangerous force, China is now so imbued with capitalism itself that it is hard to predict what will happen.
Perhaps the most dangerous "ism" that has infected the world is Islamism, both in its Shia form, including Iran, the Syrian regime of Assad and Hizbollah in southern Lebanon, and the Sunni form, as exemplified by al Qaeda and including the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, the Palestinain Muslim Brotherhood in Gaza.  This belief system is relatively new, arising out of Islam in the late nineteenth century in Egypt and bursting into prominence with the destruction of the Twin Towers in NY in 2001.  Its motivation is an intense anti-Western hatred combined with a religious arrogance that labels all others as "infidels" who can be killed on sight.  Just as with the other "isms" Islamism will be hard to defeat, but for the future peacefulness of the world it must be confronted and destroyed.  You cannot negotiate with or appease Islamism, its declared aim is to destroy the USA and the West.  A difficult task is to distinguish between Islam and Islamism, and the current trend unleashed by the overthrow of dictators in the Muslim countries from Tunisia to Yemen has unleashed popular forces that may yet cohere into an anti-Western power.  Let Islam become a  peaceful religion, but the current riots throughout the Muslim world with the most flimsy of excuses indicate that this is unlikely to happen.  It may be that to defeat Islamism it will be necessary to also defeat Islam. 
We should remember that these "isms" or dangerous organizations are led by charismatic leaders and their followers in the name of their strange belief system are prepared to kill any who do not agree with them. As Bertrand Russell once said, "beware the ideologues, they are dangerous."

Friday, September 21, 2012

Topless or headless

Magazines are printing topless pictures of the Duchess of Cambridge (aka Kate Middleton) and anti-Muslim cartoons.  Why is it permissible to publish the former and not the latter?  Seeing the Duchess topless (good gracious!) is not considered a threat to national security, while seeing Mohammed in a cartoon is.  Because the satirical magazine "Charlie Hebdo" has published some cartoons mocking Mohammed, so the French Government has closed down Embassies, closed schools and put its National Guard on alert.  I think they should do this over the topless photos of the British Royalty and not over the anti-Muslim cartoons.
If you think that Muslims will riot, so what, let them continue to riot and let our security forces take care of them.  I have a suggestion, every newspaper in the West should print a satirical cartoon of Mohammed, next to a topless photo of Kate.  Then let them riot.  In the end, if we keep doing this, they will get fed up with rioting, after all how many times can you riot and achieve nothing.  They will trash their home cities, but they are used to living in such conditions.  They will kill each other (decapitation is their favorite way), but they do that anyway.  Maybe if they see the topless photos of Kate they will stop rioting for a moment, or maybe they will riot more.
The British Royal family have sued the French newspapers and obtained an injunction to stop any more publication of the offending photos.  Why can't the Muslims do the same thing, the civilized way.  But, of course they won't, civilized is not their forte.  Since there is freedom of expression in France and in Denmark, topless photos of public figures will continue to be published and satirical cartoons of Mohammed (like those of Jesus and Moses - I'd like to see a satirical cartoon of all three) will continue to be printed, at least until the Muslims take over.  In the meantime we should not let the Islamic forces or the Royal Palace spoil our fun. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Lone soldiers

Lone Soldiers are volunteers in the IDF who come from abroad and don't have parents or family in Israel.  What is interesting is that the number of Lone Soldiers in the IDF is increasing and there are now over 5,000 of them.  The IDF has established a program to help them get accustomed to life in Israel and there are groups of Israeli volunteers that cater to their needs.  Unlike other soldiers, Lone Soldiers don't have homes to go to when they are off duty, so houses have been established in several main cities where they can go to stay and meet other Lone Soldiers.  Also there are programs that "adopt" Lone Soldiers on kibbutzim and in homes and families in Israel to help them feel less alone. They make Israeli friends in the service and are invited to their homes during holidays like Rosh Hashanah.  The Government puts on programs for them, such as large dinners and celebrations for Rosh Hashanah and other holidays, at which Generals and leading Israeli politicians are present, such as President Peres, PM Netanyahu and Speaker of the Knesset Reuven Rivlin.
Most of these Lone Soldiers are Jewish and they come from all over the world, USA, Britain, Colombia, France, Australia, and they form a considerable cadre of trained and dedicated soldiers.  They form life-long friendships and sometimes even marriages.  Many of them decide to stay in Israel or go back to their own communities and make aliyah later.  They strengthen the pro-Israel tendencies among Jewish youth around the world.  Lone soldiers participate in all the training programs of the IDF, including krav maga (hand-to-hand combat), a uniquely Israeli form of karate, or manual self-defence, that was invented by Imi Lichtenfeld, a boxer and wrestler who developed this method from street fighting techniques he learned while protecting the Jewish community in Bratislava during the 1930s.  If any Lone Soldiers were to be molested or attacked by anti-Semites when they return to their countries in the Diaspora, then their attackers might be in for a rude surprise.  These young soldiers know how to defend themselves.
Among these Lone Soldiers are a smattering of non-Jews, gentiles, often Christians, who have a belief in the right of the Jewish people to inhabit their homeland, the Land of the Bible.  Sometimes these Christians are fundamentalists, for example from the American South, who have been brought up on the Old Testament, as they call the Jewish Bible, and are very pro-Israel, both religiously and politically.  Others are just adventurers who hope to get a bit of excitement in the Israeli forces.  Of course, the IDF does rigorous background checks to ensure that no messianic Christians who would try to convert Israeli soldiers, or even malicious anti-Israel elements, manage to slip in. 
In general, the Lone Soldiers are a new phenomenon in Jewish history, where Jewish youth from the galut (exile) come to the Jewish homeland, Israel, to be trained as soldiers, and then go back and strengthen their far-flung communities.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

"Darling, I have something to tell you..."

I am hooked on those detective series, CSI and Law and Order.  I watch with incredulity at the twists and turns of the lives that people in them live and the incredible lies that they tell.  By comparison my life is so tame, I feel by the end of the show that I have to invent a few transgressions of my own.  After watching them I feel that I have to "allocute" as they say.  I tell my wife "Darling, I have something to tell you...I'm really a lesbian."  I know this could get me into trouble with the Lesbian, Gay and Transgender people, they might want to dismember me, although if I were a lesbian I might already be dismembered.  
But, what I find worse is the gore that they show, it must be deliberate, do they think ordinary middle class viewers really like this stuff, do they think we need to be exposed to this degree of carnage.  Frankly, I could take less of it.  DNA is enough, its clean and gives a nice pattern of bands on a gel electrophoresis photograph (OK, if you don't understand that you haven't watched enough CSI episodes).  But, on the other hand, maybe the makers know that it upsets us, they want us squirming in our seats, they want us near the vomit point, they want us to physically feel the experience of watching their damned shows.   
I imagine someone who designs and produces their medical art saying, let's give them a knife throught the carotid, with blood spurting out.  Let's give them splatter patterns on the wall, and drip directionality towards the dark basement.  Let's have a hatchet through the head showing the brain oozing out, let's make them uncomfortable, let's make it explicit, let's disturb them.  And the writers, each time they come up with more and more imaginative ways that people die or are murdered.  So what if he falls on a railing and is impregnated by multiple spear-points.  So what if she is garroted and flayed alive, its all good clean fun.   They invent serial killers at the drop of a hat, they proliferate murders willy-nilly.  The nearest thing I come to that in real life is eating too much breakfast, that's right "Darling I have something to tell you...I'm a cereal killer."

Monday, September 17, 2012

For Rosh Hashanah

These thoughts were initiated as a result of a lecture given by Rabbi Mendel Blachman of the Yeshiva Kerem B'Yavne at the New Synagogue (Macdonald) regarding the spirit of Rosh Hashanah.  He was speaking specifically about Malchiut, which roughly translated is perhaps "the Kingdom of God."  Even though I would like to give a summary of his presentation, I cannot do it justice because I lack the necessary frame of reference.  I think I understood his arguments, even though I can only present the thoughts he evoked in my secular frame of reference.   
There are three aspects of every society and individual that form an interactive matrix.  Religon or belief system, ethnic group or culture and tribal loyalty or national identity.   As religions evolve and influence each other, so do ethnic groups and tribes or nations evolve and influence each other.  For example, Judaism as it was described in the Bible bears little resemblance to what it is today after many changes.  Not only the historical loss of the Temple and the priesthood, but the development of Rabbinical Judaism and the influences of Hellenism, including such things as the theater and drama that were Greek inventions.  But, Judaism thru Christianity, that started as a reformist Judaic movement, has reciprocally influenced and largely replaced Greek and Roman culture. 
The term Jew is ambiguous, because it signifies three things together, religion, ethnic group or culture and nationhood.  In the Diaspora/ Galut the latter was greatly weakened and in the 19th century with the development of representative government and citizenship, it became possible to think of Jews as purely a religious identification, in other words Englishmen or Germans of the Judaic persuasion.  But remnants of a distinctive culture and tribal/national identity remained, especially where Jews formed a large minority, such as in Eastern Europe. Of course this only became a primary motivation thru Zionism, where the religious aspect was reduced and replaced to a large extent by the national aspect.  
Even though a religious or frum Jew may wish for the earlier Malchiut, of God's transcendence as conceived in the Talmud, he cannot really wish for it, because his view of the world and of God has been changed by the intervening transformation.  Nevertheless, a religious Jew must make of his spiritual journey what he can, recognizing that things can never be what they were.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Revolting Muslims

There was a time if an embassy was breached and an Ambassador was killed this was a causus belli.  An imperial power would despatch a couple of gun-boats and bombard the offending country and send in the marines.  But, now its much more complex.  Yes, Pres. Obama sent two warships and a detachment of marines to Benghazi, Libya, where Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed when the US Consulate was attacked and destroyed, but he also almost apologized for doing so.  He made it quite clear that the US does not agree with the anti-Muslim sentiments of the supposed movie "The innocence of Muslims" and that he does not hold the current Libyan Government responsible for the action of a small (or quite large) minority. 
The fact that the US stands for freedom of expression was glossed over.  In the US you can say practically anything, you can criticize Christians, Jews (there is a lot of that) and Muslims (in principle), protected by the various amendments to the Constitution, and get away with it.  You can display bad taste, obscenity and stupidity (like most Hollywood movies) and get away with it.  Even a badly produced and acted video is protected under freedom of expression, although it might be illegal if it is truly inflammatory.  But, the Muslims want NO criticism and by violently rioting every time there is the least bit of criticism of Mohammed, that intimidates any such criticism.  Hence cartoonists are very careful now after the events of 2006, and movie makers will be more self-censoring.  Even though it is stated in the Koran that Mohammed married a 13 year old girl and murdered a whole tribe after tricking them to lay down their weapons, noone will mention it, it will be the elephant in the room.
Whoever made the video tried of course to transfer blame onto that all-encompassing scapegoat, the Jew, and an Israeli at that.  But, it turned out that it was a lie, and the fictitious Sam Bacile does not exist, but is a pseudonym of a Californian emigre Coptic Christian Basseley Nakoula, who wanted to vent his anti-Muslim feelings.  It is not surprising that the Copts have anti-Muslim feelings, since they are an Egyptian minority (10%) treated to constant harassment and murder by the Muslim majority.  Every now and then the Muslims riot and attack and burn Churches, just as they used to attack and burn synagogues. 
There are two mitigating circumstances to the Benghazi events.  First, it appears that the attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi was a pre-planned, calculated attack with heavy weapons, on the eleventh anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in the US, which make it seem more like an al Qaeda type of attack, unlike the attacks in Cairo and elsewhere on US Embassies that were carried out by unarmed mobs.  So the reaction to the objectionable video was a convenient cover for a more serious and professional hit there.  Also, different is that in Benghazi the whole building was destroyed and Americans were murdered.  Second, the Libyan Government failed to provide security for the Consulate and the US Government also failed to adequately protect its personnel, apparently despite prior warnings of an attack. Both Governments have now said that the attack was carried out by members of Al Qaeda in the Maghreb (N. Africa) and another terrorist group, and the Libyan Government have arrested four men said to have been involved in the attack. 
These riots do not bring any credit to the Muslims, it shows them as undisciplined, violent and childish (even Pres. Morsi of Egypt said they were childish).   They are a gross over-raction to an unimportant and amateurish criticism.  Are they so insecure that they cannot open their faith to any challenge and cannot distinguish between the US and a private individual?  In any case, these events show that Muslims are not friends of the US and if a stupid short video can cause such rioting, then the US is in a very tenuous position throughout the Arab/Muslim world. Spending billions of dollars in these countries, as the US does in Egypt, will not buy the US their friendship or support.  What is clear is that the removal of the Arab dictators through the much-heralded "Arab Spring" has unleashed a wave of anti-American and anti-Western hysteria throughout the Arab world.  What the US needs in the Middle East is a good reliable ally, and oh, by the way, it has one, Israel! 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Miracles do happen!

So yesterday I finally decided to renew the registration of my car.  I had paid the fee in the Post Office and the new registration form was lying on the table for a few weeks getting ripe.  I needed to take the car in to pass the test to renew the registration. Then I realized that I had not received a new driving license, so I looked at my current one and found that it had expired on my birthday, a few days ago.  Then I remembered that I had taken the form to renew the license to my doctor to have him fill out the medical part.  What happened was that I took it there about 3 months ago, and then after a month or more they gave it back to me not filled out.  So I returned it to them and asked them again to have him fill it out.  Apparently it was done this time, but it sat there for over a month.  I forgot about it partly because they never called me or told me about it.  So I raced around there and sure enough it was sitting in their pile of papers.  So then I raced to the office that issues licences (misrad rishui), but it was closed. I couldn't renew my car registration without a valid driving license.  What a mess, life is too complex.  I should have someone to do these things for me.
I am sure you are waiting with bated breath to find out what happened.  Well nothing, it turned out to be so easy.  We got up early (as usual) and were at the misrad rishui when it opened at 8 am, with ca. 15 people before us.  When they opened the door I walked in like the others and went up to one of the clerks and asked her in my poor Hebrew if this was the right place for me to get the license (rishui nahag).  She said "show me your papers" which I did, then she took them away processed them and gave me back the temporary license within about 3 mins.  No discussion about the fact that it was out-of-date or anything.  She said the actual license will be mailed to my home.  I did not have to pay anything.  That was that, in and out in 5 mins.  Some people in the line behind us complained because I went first, so I said (in my puposely bad Hebrew) that I just wanted to check that I was in the right place and the clerk took my papers, so they said "shana tovah" (only in Israel).
Then we drove to the garage to have the car tested for the registration (rishui rechev).  I was the first online at 8.15 am, but when the clerk looked at my papers she said I didn't have my current insurance form.  I told her that I had paid and it must be at home (which it was), so she said call the insurance company and have them fax a copy to her.  They did this within 5 mins, and in the meantime the head of the place came over and asked what was wrong and I tried to explain and he said "don't worry" and he signed my form and said go ahead.  So we were thru the testing lane in about 10 mins and we were out of there by 9 am!  Is this a miracle in the Land of Israel, or what? 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Jews from Arab Lands

On Monday, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon opened the international conference “Justice for Jewish Refugees from Arab Countries” in Jerusalem. The conference is an initiative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Ministry for Senior Citizens and the World Jewish Congress.  Some 850,000 Jews left or were forced to leave Arab countries in the late 1940's-50s around the time of the founding of the State of Israel. 
I first became interested in the fate of these people around 1976 when I became aware of the existence of the World Organization for Jews from Arab Countries (WOJAC).  I spent a year on sabbatical in 1977 in Israel and visited the offices of WOJAC in Tel Aviv.  I met their Director Maurice Roumani, a Jew from Libya whose family had narrowly escaped death at the hands of maurauding Arab mobs (he is now Head of the Arab Studies Dept. at Ben Gurion University).  After I returned to the US I helped to distribute WOJACs material.  But, there was little interest in this story and even the State of Israel ignored the fact that more Jews were refugees from Arab countries than there were Palestinian refugees (originally ca. 750,000).  Furthermore the wealth and property stolen from these Jews (est. b$300) far exceeded what the Palestinian Arabs had lost.
If we lived in a perfect world the plight and fate of the Jews form Arab countries would have been part of the equation of negotiations between Israel and the Arabs from the start.  It was not! Successive Israeli Governments ignored the situation.  Why this was so is hard to explain since this would have bolstered the Israeli position as well as being a humanitarian problem.  Until the mid-1950s hundreds of thousands of Arab Jews lived in tent cities in Israel, called ma'abarot, otherwise known as refugee camps.  Even when we visited in 1977 the last ma'abara still existed near Rishon Letzion, but the claims and suffering of these people was not recognized by the Israeli Government.  Instead they were gradually absorbed into the social fabric of Israel, as should happen with refugees.
Why was this so?  Several reasons have been advanced for this, one is that the leaders and culture of Israel was predominantly Ashkenazi Jewish, in other words white, Yiddish-speaking European Jews controlled the Government and were not interested in the plight of their Arab Jewish brethren.  Another reason given is that Israel was a positive forward-facing country and Israelis were not sympathetic to the suffering of fellow Jews, be they Holocaust survivors or Arab Jewish refugees.  Another reason cited is that the negotiations were with the Palestinian Arabs and did not include the fate of the Jews from Arab countries, these should be left for negotiations between Israel and those countries themselves.  Whatever the reasons, these Jews, whose suffering and refugee status was real, were ignored.
Now suddently the Israeli Government has pushed this cause to the fore, and has begun a PR campaign to inform the public of the case of the Jews from Arab countries.  Deputy FM Danny Ayalon has made a video on the subject, one in a series on Israel public policy, about the refugees (see: and the Government has officially announced that it will seek redress for the fate of these Jews in future negotiations, as indicated in the current conference in Jerusalem. Their number, wealth and former property is documented in hundreds of affidavits and original records of land ownership and property that was stolen.  Not only were individuals involved in this theft, but Governments, such as those of Egypt and Iraq, officially confiscated their holdings.  There is now a new organization named Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa (JIMENA) that is representing this cause ( in the USA. This injustice must be redressed!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Replacement theology

The Atheist State, as exemplified by Soviet Communism, was an attempt to replace theism, just as Christianity and Islam, the daughter religions of Judaism, the original monotheism, attempted to replace it by force, power and persecution.  Under Communism all religions were considered dangerous and were suppressed and their adherents were persecuted.  Just as the Romans fed Christians to the Lions, so Christians disappeared into Stalin's Gulag.  And just as the Pope and his minions murdered the souls of the unredeemed Jews, so the Yevzekzia persecuted Jewish believers.  It's all a question of replacement theology, being the supposed inheritor gives you the right to eliminate the antecedents.
This brutal story of human history advanced in stages such that the "latest" fashion in belief systems takes the arrogant view that it is the only valid and acceptable system and all previous ones must be eliminated.  There are so many examples its hard to know where to start. The Roman persecution of the Christians was followed by the Christian persecution of the Romans (all their Temples were destroyed and their adherents were forced to convert).  Emperor Constantine who determined what was acceptable Christian dogma (the so-called Holy Trinity) persecuted heretical Christian sects as well as Judaism.  
The Inquisition was used not against the Jews, who had been expelled from Spain in 1492, but against those Jews who had been forcibly converted to Christianity and who were suspected of remaining practising Jews or believers.  Its methods were fascist and primitive, people were tortured until they confessed and then were murdered.  Mass burnings of victims called auto-da-fe were carried out as public entertainment.  The Catholics also did this to the native Americans that they encountered in Central and South America.  This is one reason why the Church was so hated in Mexico and elsewhere, but it was victorious through the elimination of all other belief systems. 
In the Spanish Civil War in 1936 the Republicans and the Fascists fought each other with massacres being the norm.  The Communists and Marxists believed that the Church was criminal and so when they captured a Church they desecrated and destroyed it.  The Fascists believed that the Church must be protected from the atheist hordes, so when the Fascists captured a town they killed all the Republicans they could find, it was as simple as that.  The Spanish Civil war was a prelude to the horrors of WWII, during which Nazism, a pseudo-religious ideology that glorified Adolf Hitler, murdered all who stood in their way, including Jews, Gypsies, Poles and other lower orders of men.  They were opposed by Stalin's Communism that equally murdered anyone who might have a glimmer of a different view or belief system.
We may think the mad period of ideologies such as Fascism, Nazism and Communism are over, but in fact the world is threatened by mass murder by two opposing sects of Islam, both of which believe that they are the only holders of the true faith.  The Iranians lead the Shia fanatics, that include the Assad Syrian regime and Hizbollah, and al Qaeda, Hamas and the Moslem Brotherhood lead the Sunni Muslim fanatics.  Make no mistake these are murderous ideologies, as we have discovered to our cost, and they truly believe that they have the latest, last and only true faith.  They must be stopped before they have the power to put their faith to the test.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Red lines on Iran

It started with "You killed our saviour" and "Christ killers" and then became "Jews are pushy" and "Jews are loud" and then "Jews are our misfortune" and "Jews are backstabbers" and then "Jews are our enemy" and "Jews are responsible for all our problems," and finally "Kill the Jew!" That's how it went in Germany and elsewhere in Europe, and we know the consequences.  Now in Iran the same process is taking place, "Jews are sons of monkeys and pigs" (it says that in the Koran, a revelation from Allah to Mohammed) and "Jews control the USA," and "the Holocaust is a fabrication," and finally "we will wipe Israel off the map."  Shall we sit and wait for that to happen?
Now Canada under PM Harper has had enough and has cut off diplomatic relations with Iran.  There are other leaders, such as Pres. Obama who believe that reasoning with megalomaniacal extremists can bring them to their senses.  But, we should know by now that that will never work.  Now Pres. Ahmedinejad has announced that Canada is controlled by the Jews and the Zionists, what else?  Certainly the sanctions are working, they are having an effect on the Iranian economy and are costing Iran ca. b$10 per month in lost oil and other revenues.  But, has it changed their tune, will it influence their determination to achieve Shia/Iranian hegemony over the Middle East and then the world, of course not!  As one member of the UN publicly states that it will destroy another member state of the UN, against all the principles that the UN is supposed to stand for, do the nations of the world do anything?  There is no appeasing lunatics, there is no way of dealing rationally with fundamentalist extremists.  Unfortunately Israel is caught between a rock and a hard place.  Noone else will bite the bullet, noone else is prepared to take the bull by the horns, noone else is prepared to tackle Iran head on, except Israel.
So far Pres. Obama has vacillated.  When first elected he tried to make overtures to the Iranian leadership, after all they must (in western terms) be rational.  But, they are not, and it didn't work.  He made his famous speech form Cairo, that will go down in history as one of the most stupid and disastrous speeches ever made by an American President, a kind of extended mea culpa.  But, that didn't work either.  Then he agreed with Israel that Iran cannot be allowed to develop a nuclear weapon.  But, since then he has relied on sanctions and international diplomatic pressure.  PM Netanyahu has challenged Obama, what are his red lines on Iran, does he have any?  It's all well and good spending most of the time trying to restrain Israel, talking about different time-lines and interpretations of Iranian intentions.  But, whether Netanyahu is serious or only trying to arouse international and US action against Iran by his threats, the question arises, do the Iranians take any threats from the US seriously, can the trillion dollar American military make any difference if its credibility is in question, does Obama have any red lines on Iran?

Sunday, September 09, 2012


About two years ago I bought an e-book reader, but not a Kindle, because I was told that you can only order books from Amazon on a Kindle.  Even though Amazon has 5 million books listed I wanted to download free books and books from other sites, not only that of the company of the device. The e-reader I bought was a small tablet, in color (unlike the Kindle) that allows me to access the internet.  I thought this would be a great advantage, because then you could find the cheapest version of a given book and titles that were not available in their listing, as well as accessing e-mail
So I downloaded several books, but I found it difficult to use the websites of rival companies, they made the transfer of books into the device difficult, but I found a program designed specifically to do that and after some effort I got the books listed on the device.  Then imagine my surprise later when I went to read these books, that I had paid for and downloaded, that I got a message that said "you are not an authorized reader."  What? I am not authorized to read a book I had purchased on a device I had purchased.  When I couldn't get it to work, I wrote to the customer service department of the company.  They required me to put in the serial number of the specific device,  which I did.  However, then they wrote back and asked me for the date of purchase and the place purchased.  By then the receipt, that I had kept, was so faded that I could hardly read it.  I realize that they are playing for time, but I don't have time either to fight them.
To add insult to injury I have just received an e-mail thanking me for purchasing a book from them, that I did not buy, the book cost $9.99.  I imagine that in an office somewhere in their company there is a computer that checks your purchases and if you buy from their competitors they declare you an unauthorized reader, and then they order books for you randomly.  I tried replying to the e-mail but it is a non-receivable address.  I also tried customer service again, but it was either closed or too busy.  So its a scam, you think you have freedom to buy what you want, but you don't and then they order books for you without your approval. They know that you'll never be able to overcome their e-scam.
On the other hand, we did our first order from the supermarket via the web.  Our daughter made it possible, since I couldn't navigate the Hebrew.  After we registered and submitted the order we got two calls to confirm our credit card, but all was OK and a day later the order was delivered.   It saved traipsing out in the heat and shlapping the stuff ourselves.  We received one roll instead of a package and five red peppers instead of one, but once you've got the hang of it, it should be easy.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Democratic cynicism

So the Democratic party powers-that-be, which must include Pres. Obama, decided to remove the "Jerusalem is Israel's capital" line from the Democratic Party platform, as well as any reference to God.   But, there was such a negative reaction from the Jewish and other pro-Israel elements in the Party that there was a so-called floor debate about the issue.  It would take a real expert in crowd volume to distinguish between the yeas and the nays to decide that 2/3 had voted to reinstate the line in the Party platform.  That's what the Party did, but from my perspective and that of many other observers, the majority seemed a lot slimmer than that.  Many Arab-Americans used the opportunity to try to carry thru a decidedly anti-Israel program.  They did not succeed, but any Zionist watching these proceedings must have been struck by the political cynicism of the Democratic Party, reluctantly reinstating a policy that it really didn't believe in.
In the final analysis, Obama may be defeated by Romney over economic and health policy considerations, but this vote will stick in the craw of many American Jews. For the first time an American Party showed conclusively where it really stands on the fundamental issues of the Middle East.  While the rest of the world is prepared to take a pro-Arab position in order to curry favor with the Arab majority, at least we Zionists hoped that the American party political scene would not be split between those that support Israel and those that don't.  However, for all of Obama's rhetoric, and that of the Clintons, it is now clear that the Democratic Party is less than enthusiastic about supporting the gut issues that Israel's existence depends upon.
The vacillation of Obama over the Iranian nuclear program has equally given the Iranian regime the message that the US is no longer a serious threat to its hegemonic intentions.  If you don't believe me ask the Sunni Arab states, especially Saudi Arabia and Qatar.  You can bet that these States, notwithstanding Obama's more pro-Arab sympathies, will advise their supporters in the US to vote for Romney, because he at least can be depended on to project American power around the world and in the Middle East, as well as take a more conservative line on the US economy.  At this point any American Jew who votes for Obama is essentially jettisoning his or her support for Israel and accepting a less than honest Israel Platform of the Democratic Party. 
Now that Obama has given his usual eloquent performance in his acceptance speech at the Democratic Convention, many will say, let bygones be bygones.  He still commits the US to support Israel. But the shine is off, the message is no longer new and no longer persuasive.  Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me!

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Evil Empire

Iran's sponsoring of the Non-Aligned Movements' meeting in Tehran is a mixed blessing.  Yes, 120 countries went and so did UN Secty. Gen. Ban-ki Moon.  And as PM Netanyahu pointed out, they all sat quietly while Pres. Ahmedinejad and Ayatollah Khamenei said the most outrageous lies about Israel and threatened once more to destroy this "cancer" in the Middle East.  This is known as appeasement.  But, while they didn't walk out, no one can now say that any potential attack by Israel on Iran was not justified.   Further both Ban-ki Moon and Pres. Morsi of Egypt said things publicly that must have hurt and embarrassed the Iranian hosts. 
Ban speaking from the podium pointed out that it is unacceptable for one UN member to threaten to destroy another UN member, it's against all the rules and threatens peace.  Also Morsi was less than diplomatic in accusing Iran of supporting the Syrian regime in its policy of murdering its Sunni population, and he hinted that Egypt would not stand for it.  It is doubtful that Egypt could to anything about this militarily, but they could form an alliance with the other Sunni countries Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar that are known to be supplying arms to the Syrian insurgents.  The greatest blow to the Iranian regime, as bad as an attack by Israel on its nuclear facilities, would be to lose its only ally in the Arab world, Syria.
While the outcome of the NAM conference will not be any earth-shaking results, nevertheless things have become clearer after it.  Iran as an extreme terrorist-supporting Shia state does not have a lot of natural allies in the world.  And despite all the attempts to delegitimize Israel, these fade into the background compared to the actual isolation of the Iranian regime.  Who supports their attempts to develop a nuclear weapon, only North Korea and Syria.  And what allies can they call upon to help them, none!  
Meanwhile Israel is preparing to take-out the Iranian nuclear facilities if it has to.  A word of advice for the NAM representatives, try not to visit Iran in the next few months. 

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Let's get real!

Before I left the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD, some twenty years ago, I went around and said goodbye to everybody.  One of my neighbors was a Black American, which was pretty unusual in that place.  We got to chatting, which we had rarely done before, and when I told him I was going to live in Israel he was shocked.  He really said, how can you go and live in such a racist country.  We discussed the situation and he told me that at a recent dinner party he had attended made up of all Black professionals, the topic under discussion was how Israel was supporting then-apartheid S. Africa.  I told him that France, Britain and the US all supported S. Africa more than Israel, and that S. Africa, which has no oil of its own, could not survive without oil imports from Arab countries.  He said it it was illegal under UN boycotts to sell oil to S. Africa, and I pointed out that nevertheless huge quantities of Arab oil were being shipped to S. Africa thru middlemen.  He asked me to document my assertions.
I contacted the Israeli Embassy and other organizations and amassed a collection of mostly newspaper articles that documented the delivery of oil shipments by tankers from Iraq via third countries to S. Africa.  I also gave him a listing of military shipments to S. Africa, that showed that Israeli support to the S. African regime was dwarfed by those of other Western countries, for example France was at that time selling warships to apartheid S. Africa, without any public protests.  I pointed out to him that the US was a racist country, with many examples of discrimination against Blacks, but that within Israel there was no such prevalent racism and Arabs were represented in the Israeli Parliament, the Knesset.. 
After he had perused this material he came back to me and thanked me.  I told him he was the victim of propaganda, of a public relations campaign designed to delegitimize Israel, when the US was much more racist and much more supporting S. Africa than Israel.  I asked him to share this information with his friends and to start a campaign to oppose Arab oil imports to apartheid S. Africa.  I doubt whether this made any difference, but at least it made me feel good.  The same gang of Arabs and their supporters are still trying to hang the "apartheid" label on Israel.  It is nonsense and it won't stick, but nevertheless, having lost in their attempts to destroy Israel physically they still attempt to de-legitimize Israel.  And unfortunately there are many poorly informed liberal-minded people who are prepared to accept this nonsense at face-value.  Come on guys, get real! 

Monday, September 03, 2012

Para and other lympics

It has become somewhat politically correct to watch the Paralymic Games currently underway in London.  I have a confession to make, I do not watch the Paralymics.  I admit that I find it somewhat perverted to watch people who are physically handicapped struggling to overcome their disability as if they were normal.  Does anyone care who achieves a gold medal if they are disabled and can never reach the levels of performance that normal people can reach.  I understand that it's good for the disabled people themselves to compete and try to do their best, but I feel schadenfreude, taking hidden pleasure that they can't do things as normal people can. 
The Paralympics started in 1948 as the brainchild of Sir Ludwig Guttmann, a German Jewish refugee to England who was a physician at the Stoke Mandeville Hospital, where cosmetic surgery was started in order to help British servicemen who had been disfigured in  WWII.  Guttmann wanted some way to keep the disabled veterans active, so he thought up the idea of a Parallel Olympic Games, when the Olympics were held in England in 1948.  Did you know that there is also a World Special Olympic Games for people who are mentally challenged, and a Deafalympics for you know who (where you can make as much noise as you like).
I think we should take it to its logical conclusion, why not a homolympics for homosexuals, a lesbolympics for lesbians and a transolympics for transvestites.  Also a blindolympics, a fatolympics and a shortolympics and a tallolympics.  We could also have a Blackolympics for Blacks, but since they outrun the whites why bother. We already have a Jewlympics called the Maccabiah Games, held every 4 years in Israel.  But, that is only designed to show that Jews can be athletes too, and by the way its safer than the Olympics themselves.
The modern Olympic movement is a kind of strange amalgam of pagan and secular and designed to be both nationalist (each country shows its flag and gets its anthem played if they win) and internationalist (all the athletes of the world come together in peace).   If the Islamists ever get their way it will be stopped.  Note that although this was the first time that every national delegation had at least one woman, some of the Muslim countries expected their women to compete in chadors or other full coverings.  Can you imagine doing judo in that (they might even stick in a man to compete and you'd never know).  As the Muslims gradually become civilized they may go through a process of female empowerment, when women will gradually wear less and less in these tournaments.  But, don't count on it. 

Sunday, September 02, 2012


When I was a teenager and a budding scientist, my Uncle Alf and Aunt Phyllis were professional astrologers. They used to go on cruises and make charts of the stars for the passengers, you know "what's in your stars?"  Eventually my Aunt Phyllis, who was also a medium, became the Chair of the British Astrology Association.  I loved them, they were always very kind and understanding to me, they even taught me, an awkward teenager, how to dance.  But, when they tried to "convert" me, to believe in their views, I never succumbed. 
My Uncle Alf believed in psychokinesis, the supposed ability of people to move objects with their mind.  He believed that we had only realized a minute proportion of the potential of the mind.  He was an intellectual and showed me a book in which someone actually claimed to cause small clouds to disappear, but I was skeptical, you could take any kind of photos and make it look as if he caused it.  Sometimes I stared intently at clouds and tried to make them change shape, people thought I was a bit odd, but it never worked. 
Alf had had an interesting life, he had been a merchant seaman, not a usual job for a Jewish boy, and had sailed around the world.  One time in New York he got into trouble with the police, but he managed to escape and jumped into the harbor and swam to his ship just as it was leaving.  He worked as a door-to-door salesman, selling brushes and other doo-dads that women like for their kitchen.  I couldn't imagine how an intelligent and charming man like him could not get a better job, but he was happy at what he did.  They also believed in metempsychosis, the transmigration of souls from one body to another, as in reincarnation (what color is that flower?), featured as "met-him-pike-hoses" in James Joyce's "Ulysses."  In other words, we are not what we seem to be.
My Aunt tried to convince me about the "chart," that the arrangement of the stars at the moment of birth of a person reveals their destiny, what will happen to them.  I completely rejected this as irrational, for example, twins are born seconds apart, yet their lives can take completely different turns, especially if they are separated at birth and adopted.  At the time we didn't know how big a role genetics plays in destiny, but of course, she said the stars move fast so that explains it.  She made my chart, and one of her predictions was that I would one day become famous.  I'm still waiting for that to happen, which more or less proves my point.