Monday, April 30, 2007

Malcom Fraser

Cartoon by Geoff Pryor

Former PM Malcolm Fraser (from 1975 - 1983) is opening his big mouth again and accusing the present government of using "the politics of fear to damage traditional Australian values". He said this and more in a speech at the Australian National University today as reported on ABC news.

I remember Fraser well from his days as Prime Minister. He was one of the most right wing PMs we have had and is now reinventing himself as a (small "l") liberal.

What bothers me is that he is trying to cover up the issues of radical Moslems and the damage they are doing in the world today. All this touchy-feely stuff that Islam is a peace loving religion is not borne out by the facts on the ground. Sure there are many Moslems in Australia and other countries who just want to get on with the job of living and raising their families in peace. But unfortunately there are also many of those, including their leaders, who want to stir up trouble.

As Australians we cannot jump to the conclusion that anyone who is different is bad but we must also recognise and stop the troublemakers before things get out of hand.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

The Real France

I just received this email about the situation in France. I don't know how accurate all the facts are but, from what I have read, it is very close to the truth. We are very lucky to live in Australia where, although we are seeing isolated anti Jewish incidents, the authorities do not condone anti-semitism.

Once again, the real news in France is conveniently not being reported as it should. To give you an idea of what's going on in France where there are now between 5 and 6 million Muslims and about 600,000 Jews, here is an email that came from a Jew living in France. Please read!

Will the world say nothing - again - as it did in Hitler's time?

He writes, "I AM A JEW -- therefore I am forwarding this to everyone on all my e-mail lists. I will not sit back and do nothing." Nowhere have the flames of anti-Semitism burned more furiously than in France :
In Lyon, a car was rammed into a synagogue and set on fire.
In Montpellier , the Jewish religious center was firebombed; so were synagogues in Strasbourg and Marseilles ; so was a Jewish school in Creteil - all recently .
A Jewish sports club in Toulouse was attacked with Molotov cocktails, and on the statue of Alfred Dreyfus in Paris , the words "Dirty Jew" were painted.
In Bondy, 15 men beat up members of a Jewish footbal team with sticks and metal bars.
The bus that takes Jewish children to school in Aubervilliers has been attacked three times in the last 14 months.

According to the Police, metropolitan Paris has seen 10 to 12 anti-Jewish incidents PER DAY in the past 30 days.

Walls in Jewish neighborhoods have been defaced with slogans proclaiming "Jews to the gas chambers" and "Death to the Jews."

A gunman opened fire on a kosher butcher's shop (and, of course, the butcher) in Toulouse , France ; a Jewish couple in their 20s were beaten up by five men in Villeurbanne , France . The woman was pregnant; a Jewish school was broken into and vandalized in Sarcelles , France .

This was just in the past week.

So I call on you, whether you are a fellow Jew, a friend, or merely a person with the capacity and desire to distinguish decency from depravity, to do, at least, these three simple things:

First, care enough to stay informed. Don't ever let yourself become deluded into thinking that this is not your fight. I remind you of what Pastor Neimoller said in World War II.... "First they came for the Communists, and I didn't speak up, because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up, because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up, because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak up for me".

Second, boycott France and French products. Only the Arab countries are more toxically anti-Semitic and, unlike them, France exports more than just oil and hatred. So boycott their wines and their perfumes. Boycott their clothes and their foodstuffs. Boycott their movies. Definitely boycott their shores. If we are resolved we can exert amazing pressure and, whatever else we may know about the French, we most certainly know that they are like a cobweb in a hurricane in the face of well directed pressure.

Third, send this along to your family, your friends, and your co-workers. Think of all of the people of good conscience that you know and let them know that you and the people that you care about need their help.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Anzac Day Reflections - 2007

Anzac Day has been commemorated each year in Australia on April 25th since 1916. Surprisingly, to me at least, every year it seems to gain in popularity as witnessed by the increasing numbers of people attending the various Anzac Day ceremonies throughout Australia.

But what does it mean for the Jewish Community? Does it have anything to do with us when taking account of the six million Jews who were murdered by the Nazis?

Growing up I was privileged to attend Anzac Day ceremonies held by the Jewish Ex-Servicemen Association and believe that I received an understanding of this important day. As Australians, and as Jews, we must be cognisant of those who fought in defence of our freedom. Sure, war is a terrible thing and many innocents are killed but that does not mean that we should sit back and ignore what is going on in other countries. The Australians who fought in the two world wars and Vietnam and are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan today believed and believe that they are doing a service for the people in those countries and ultimately for the people of Australia. I am one of those who believes that they fought and are fighting for our freedom.

We are fortunate to live in a country that, in general, is not racist. Sure there are ignorant people around but, in the majority, Australians really do believe in giving everyone a fair go. This is borne out by the numbers of European Jews who came to these shores after the Second World War and have made successful lives for themselves and their descendents.

The Ode that is recited at every Anzac Day ceremony always gives me chills. It is a succinct remembrance of those who gave their lives for freedom:

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
Lest we forget.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Happy Birthday

This is a cute cartoon for Birthright which is quite appropriate for the 5th of Iyar - Israel's Independence Day.

Thanks to Mentalblog.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Mivtzoim at MOTL

COL reports that 1,000 people put on tefillin at this year's March of the Living in Poland this week:

Shluchim to Poland, Rabbi Sholom Dovber Stambler and Rabbi Eliezer Gurary, held a tefillin campaign at the Auschwitz and Birkenau concentration camps in Poland this week, where large group of Jewish youths gathered for the 'march of life'. The Chabadniks laid tefillin with nearly 1000 of them and also handed out the newly published Chabad booklet on the Holocaust.
As I have said many times before, this is what Chabad is about. Quite understandably, participants in this important project experience intense emotions when visiting the concentration camps, Warsaw Ghetto and other sites of the Holocaust. The shluchim are providing the participants a positive way in which to express these feelings. I hope that as well as attending to the men the women were provided with Shabbos Candles or some other tangible Mitzvah.

Also see the article in the Australian Jewish News and photos on the Australian MOTL website here.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

I Think I Saw The Chair Move...

I saw this on Apple 770 (they have some great videos) and couldn't resist posting it. Being so close to Pesach it reminded me of how, as children, we watched to see if the wine rippled when Eliyahu Hanovi came to visit. As I got older I found that it was just my grandfather bumping the table - maybe these guys will also grow up one day.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Starving Masses

The scene in Bnei Brak on motzoei Pesach

Anyone would think they hadn't seen bread for a week!! See the article and more exciting photos here.

Fortunately for the bakers here in Melbourne the customers were content to stand in line and wait to be served.

Hat tip to Mentalblog for this.

In Defence of Normal Chabadniks

Before the seder in Chiang Mai, Thailand (from Shmais)

The article in the St Louis Jewish Light, which I commented on in March here, has been addressed by Robert A. Cohn here. Cohn is editor-in-chief emeritus of that publication.

While it is good that some of the more extreme statements made in Warshall's article have been answered by Cohn - who quotes Rabbi Yosef Landa, Director of Chabad of St. Louis - the problem of the meshichisten and their distorted message still remains. Much of the article is disputing Warshall's supposition that since the pamphlets say that they come from 770 therefore it is official Chabad doctrine. I believe that this misses the point and is just a coverup for the main problem.

I accept that there is no easy solution but surely smarter minds than mine can work out what to do with these people and the problems that they are causing for Lubavitch.

The only consolation is that the Shluchim worldwide continue to do the Rebbe's work with their customary 110% devotion to the job. The number of sedarim held throughout the world by Chabad Shluchim is just one testament to their dedication to the Rebbe's mission.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Take a Short Break

In order to help minimise erev-Pesach stress I am posting this comedy segment by Yair Nitzani, an Israeli comedian who has featured here previously. I think this guy is very funny but it helps to understand the Hebrew quotes and references.