In the fictional version of Kazakhstan in the hit movie “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan,” the only Jews in the country are larger-than-life caricatures that get trotted out for a ceremonial “Running of the Jew.” In the real Kazakhstan, the top rabbi, Menachem Mendel Gershowitz, has never been forced to run anywhere. In fact, Gershowitz said, Kazakhs frequently treat him like royalty. “One time, I spoke with a Kazakh businessman,” Gershowitz told the Forward. “He asked me: ‘Tell me, Bush is Jewish also, yes? Clinton is Jewish?’ They think the opposite — not that Jewish is strange, but that Jewish is the whole world.”Read on, very funny.
The maps indicate that beyond the private land, 5.8 percent is so-called survey land, meaning of unclear ownership, and 1.3 percent private Jewish land. The rest, about 54 percent, is considered â€œstate landâ€� or has no designation, though Palestinians say that at least some of it represents agricultural land expropriated by the state.Many of the settlements sitting on stolen Palestinian land will be annexed to Israel in any future two-state plan, and are included by the path of the infamous Wall. Speaking of which, there are some excellent short films available on the website of the Alternative Information Center about the Wall--one about a portion of it that has been built across the yard of a school (!) and one about a Palestinian man fighting to keep his house, close to the path of the Wall, from being demolished. You can see them here (they're the top two on the page).
Today two suicide bombers walked into a police commando recruitment center and blew themselves up, killing 35 recruiting hopefuls. The night before I watched a TV show where a young cadet blew himself up at the police graduation ceremony - killing, as I recall, 35 people.
That was a bit of a shock.
The moments after I leave the desk at night, after a long shift, are very special to me. I read, listen to music, decompress and drink my whiskey. Most importantly I watch the movies that I've been patiently downloading while in Egypt, or copying off friends.
The best things are television series, discrete one hour shows - they aren't too long and don't require too much brain power. Frankly after a day on the desk my attention span is pretty shot.
They lean their foreheads against the metal cage that surrounds the tomb, and murmur prayers for health, better financial fortune, or a child's success in school. The practice - similar to Catholic prayers to the Virgin Mary seeking intercession with God or Shiite prayers to Imam Ali - is strictly at odds with Sunni Islam, which is generally thought to prevail here. Indeed, the leaders of Al Azhar University, the arbiters of Sunni orthodoxy in Egypt, have long assailed this and other popular moulids, or saint's festivals, like the ones to mark the Prophet Muhammad's birthday or the death of Zeinab, his granddaughter, whom the faithful believe is buried in Cairo. To these leading Sunni imams, praying to saints or even celebrating Muhammad's birthday is akin to idolatry. But their long-standing efforts and those of groups like the Muslim Brotherhood to discourage expressions of popular Egyptian Islam have gained very little traction. A senior Brotherhood official rolls his eyes when asked about the moulids. "We're against it, it's a relic of jahaliya," he says, using the Arabic term for the age of ignorance before Muhammad's time. "We would really like this to stop."And people say the Brothers are more in touch with the people.
This security-service mentality is one of the factors that contributed to the collapse of objectivity and rationality in our thinking, and which [cause this kind of thinking] to be so far removed from objective and civilized modes of analysis which are one of the achievements of human civilization. The basic issue is: 'Do the Copts in Egypt suffer from serious problems in their own country?' The only possible answer is: 'Yes'.Perhaps he'll be sharing those views with his friend and next-door neighbor, Omar Suleiman.