Virtual Declaration of Holy War Against Israel

Iran and the Arabs are preparing for a holy war against Israel: "Ahmadinejad warns Israel over blast in Shi'ite mosque in Iraq"...

"But be sure, you will not be saved from the wrath and power of the justice-seeking nations by resorting to such acts," he said to cries of "Death to America" "Death to Israel" from a crowd of thousands of supporters in central Iran.

I don't think this could be any clearer. Iran is gearing up for war on Israel.


Google: Democracy - NO; AntiSemitism - YES

Search on Google for "Jew" and you will get this disclaimer at the top of your search results page:

Offensive Search Results We're disturbed about these results as well. Please read our note here.

The link takes you to a page called "explanation.html" with an "explanation" of why you are getting anti-Semitic results from Google. It explains, "Our search results are generated completely objectively ..."

In light of the "progress" Google has made recently in revising its policies in China, perhaps it is time that they revisited their policy on publishing anti-Semitic search results.

The Second Result in the Google Image Search for "Jew"

Here is the current Google policy statement for "Jew":

Google: An explanation of our search results:

If you recently used Google to search for the word 'Jew,' you may have seen results that were very disturbing. We assure you that the views expressed by the sites in your results are not in any way endorsed by Google. We'd like to explain why you're seeing these results when you conduct this search.

A site's ranking in Google's search results is automatically determined by computer algorithms using thousands of factors to calculate a page's relevance to a given query. Sometimes subtleties of language cause anomalies to appear that cannot be predicted. A search for 'Jew' brings up one such unexpected result.

If you use Google to search for 'Judaism,' 'Jewish' or 'Jewish people,' the results are informative and relevant. So why is a search for 'Jew' different? One reason is that the word 'Jew' is often used in an anti-Semitic context. Jewish organizations are more likely to use the word 'Jewish' when talking about members of their faith. The word has become somewhat charged linguistically, as noted on websites devoted to Jewish topics such as these:

http://shakti.trincoll.edu/~mendele/vol01/vol01.174 http://www.jewishworldreview.com/cols/jonah081500.asp

Someone searching for information on Jewish people would be more likely to enter terms like 'Judaism,' 'Jewish people,' or 'Jews' than the single word 'Jew.' In fact, prior to this incident, the word 'Jew' only appeared about once in every 10 million search queries. Now it's likely that the great majority of searches on Google for 'Jew' are by people who have heard about this issue and want to see the results for themselves.

Our search results are generated completely objectively and are independent of the beliefs and preferences of those who work at Google. Some people concerned about this issue have created online petitions to encourage us to remove particular links or otherwise adjust search results. Because of our objective and automated ranking system, Google cannot be influenced by these petitions. The only sites we omit are those we are legally compelled to remove or those maliciously attempting to manipulate our results.

We apologize for the upsetting nature of the experience you had using Google and appreciate your taking the time to inform us about it.

Sincerely,The Google Team

p.s. You may be interested in some additional information the Anti-Defamation League has posted about this issue at
http://www.adl.org/rumors/google_search_rumors.asp. In addition, we call your attention to Google's search results on this topic.

�2004 Google -
Google Home - About Google


Fear and Greed at the SOY Seforim Sale

Forty years ago I shlepped boxes of books around to help set up for the annual SOY Seforim sale at Yeshiva University. I am amazed at the growth of the sale over those years. Its organizers now claim to sell, "Over 10,000 titles" at the "Largest Jewish Book Sale in North America."

I haven't been there this year. Last time I went was a couple of years ago and I found the place hopping. Reminded me a little of the book fairs in Israel and a little of the book exhibits that you find at disciplinary academic conferences.

For the organizers who shlep the books I must extend a hearty yasher koach. They pull off quite an accomplishment in logistics.

But I have a few questions.

First off, it is truly amazing how many items are for sale. However, that said, I estimated a count of fewer than 7,000 titles in the sale catalog, not 10,000. Many of those titles were CDs and many were children's books. OK you are entitled to puff up the numbers. It's not against the law.

Second, I have to give much credit to those who toiled to assemble a sale catalog. However, I wish there was a better organized and more complete catalog both online and in print -- with authors listed, not just titles. With standard categories, not ones made up for the occasion. With ISBN and publishers listed, for all entries, no just some, etc.

Third, I have to note the irony of a mere 121 entries -- about one percent of the titles -- in the "Department" called Yeshiva University. I wish there were more. In fact, I wish they carried my books and my sister's book. But they don't.

In fact what they do offer is highly ironic. Many dozens of the authors come from the Right Wing Orthodox - some call it the Meshuggena Orthodox - those who do not consider RIETS a proper Yeshiva -- and who do consider YU to be a place of uncleanness and sin where they would never set a foot. I assume there is a reason for selling books written by those who are your opponents, if not your enemies. Some might think it was to make money -- i.e., greed.

And on the other side, so many thousands of titles in all categories were not for sale. Nothing was for sale from the Jewish Theological Seminary, Hebrew Union College or secular academic or trade presses. Entire sets of Talmud translations, Tosefta editions, historical series, fiction --they were not to be seen. OK. We can understand why not. I'd call it fear. Fear of ideas that are not kosher.

I'm serious when I say how impressed I am that such a wonderful sale could be offered.

And I am also serious when I say how disappointed I am to see this sale marred by what some might think was greed and fear.


Irani foreign policy: piss off the West

Muslims decide the answer to an insult is another insult: "An image on the website of the prominent Iranian newspaper Hamshahri Sunday Feb. 12, 2006, which on Monday will open an international competition seeking cartoons about the Holocaust in what it said was a test of whether the West would be as supportive of freedom of expression over the Nazi genocide as it was with the caricatures of Islam's Prophet Muhammed originally published in Denmark and reproduced in some other countries. The advertisement, displayed in English and Arabic, was also to appear on page 31 of the print version of the paper, said Davood Kazemi, executive manager of the contest. The prophet drawings have sparked weeks of sometimes violent protest throughout the islamic world and beyond. (AP Photo, Hamshahri HO) "


Palestinians Cheer: "Bin Laden, strike again"

Asian Muslims Hold Biggest Rallies Yet - Yahoo! News:

Dig into the story of the demonstrations against the cartoons to find this gem:

"Israeli police in Jerusalem unsuccessfully tried to prevent protests by barring all men under the age of 45 from attending Friday prayers at the Al Aqsa mosque compound in the Old City, Islam's third-holiest site. Despite the efforts, about 2,000 women, young boys and older men marched around the Dome of the Rock shrine on the compound, chanting 'Bin Laden, strike again.'"


Aljazeera: Iranian Newspaper Launches Holocaust Cartoon Contest

Aljazeera.Net - New protests erupt in cartoon row:

"Iran's largest selling newspaper, Hamshahri, announced it would be holding a contest on cartoons of the Holocaust in response to the publishing in European papers of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad."

Aljazeera.Net - Iran paper plans Holocaust cartoons:

'The Western papers printed these sacrilegious cartoons on the pretext of freedom of expression, so let's see if they mean what they say and also print these Holocaust cartoons,' he [Farid Mortazavi, the graphics editor for Hamshahri newspaper] asserted.


Hamshahri is an Iranian newspaper published by the Municipality of Tehran, and founded by Gholamhossein Karbaschi. But wait, there is more...
Aljazeera.Net - Cleric demands cartoonists' death:

Muslim cleric Omar Bakri Mohammed, banned from Britain for his radical views, has called for capital punishment for cartoonists who dare depict the Prophet Muhammad.

Speaking to BBC radio from Lebanon on Monday, where he now lives, Bakri claimed 'everybody' now acknowledged that cartoons of the prophet which first appeared in a Danish newspaper in September were insulting.

'In Islam, God said, and the messenger Muhammad said, whoever insults a prophet, he must be punished and executed,' he added.


Muhammad Cartoons Cause a Stir

Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons have caused quite a stir. As summarized by Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

The Muhammad Drawings are twelve editorial cartoons of the Islamic prophet Muhammad which were printed in the Danish daily newspaper Jyllands-Posten on September 30, 2005 (and later in the Norwegian Christian newspaper Magazinet, the German newspaper Die Welt, the French daily France Soir and many other newspapers in Europe), including one where he has a bomb in his turban. The drawings are satirical illustrations accompanying an article on self-censorship and freedom of speech. They were also meant to highlight the allegation by the Danish writer K�re Bluitgen that no artist was willing to illustrate a children's book about Muhammad without remaining anonymous, out of fear of revenge from extremist Muslims because depicting Muhammad is prohibited in Islam (see aniconism).

Ordinarily I would post a link to a graphic here. But I don't want to risk being hacked or attacked. Sad, isn't it? So here is the link to all the offensive cartoons. Also try this link to an even more inclusive and offensive collection.

Oh why not post just one image here?

And yes, please do recall in this context and make the appropriate connections to George Bush's refusal to make public the photos of himself with the notorious Jack Abramoff, i.e., the other contemporary attempt to suppress graphical images for political purposes.