Newsletter : 7fax0510.txt
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Violent `Mickey' Pulled from Hamas TV
Hamas TV has taken a show featuring a violent character resembling Mickey Mouse off the
air, and says it will be reviewed. Translated clips from the show in which the hosts call
for world domination and violence against Israel were provided by Palestinian Media Watch,
and have received international publicity. The only surviving child of Walt Disney, the
creator of Mickey, called Hamas "pure evil" for indoctrinating children to hate.
Iranian Cleric Threatens Tel Aviv
In a TV sermon, an Iranian Muslim cleric said "if Olmert is planning an attack on Iran,
we'll fire tens of thousands of missiles."
During his sermon, broadcast last Friday, Sayyid Yahyah Ja'fari directly responded to
comments attributed to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert by Germany's Focus magazine.
In April, the German publication had initially reported that Olmert said Iran's nuclear
program could be set back 10 years by firing a thousand cruise missiles a day for 10 days.
The Prime Minister's Office denied the report, and Focus subsequently reedited its story,
removing the quotes.
In a speech broadcast on Iran's Kerman TV, and translated by MEMRI, Ja'fari declared
during his sermon, "Several days ago, the stupid Israeli prime minister said: `We can
attack the Iranian nuclear industry with 10,000 cruise missiles, and delay it for another
10 years.' Our response is that if he is planning to fire 10,000 missiles, we will fire
tens of thousands of missiles on Tel Aviv and Israel." The crowd responded with chants of
"Allah Akbar" (God is greatest).
The cleric added that Israel would be also targeted by Iran if the US attacked.
"If it (the US) acts stupidly and invades an Islamic country especially a country
like Iran it should bear in mind that Israel will come under a very severe attack,"
Ja'fari said. "According to our officials and political analysts, this (a US strike on
Iran) will not happen I only said it for the sake of argument because some
of the American officials have a little sense, and they realize that their interests
throughout the world would be in danger, and that the plundering Israel would also be
attacked severely by us," he added.
Ja'fari also lashed out at the international community, saying it "remains silent. It
has never done anything... if some Zionist goes to hell, then all the Western, American,
and European media, as well as the Security Council, the UN and everyone else, go into
action. However, if 100 Palestinians unjustly die a martyr's death on a single day
they don't care about it."
Turning to President George Bush, Ja'fari said: "As you can see, the killing in Iraq is
outrageous. That international criminal, George Bush... If there is any justice in the
world, undoubtedly, this man and his ilk, without a doubt, should be sentenced to 100
deaths. There is no doubt about it. The power of the world of Islam is great. The
governments are dependent (upon America), and so they prevent the Muslim peoples from
doing anything, and even if they were to do anything, it would be ineffective."
Radical Palestinian Group Claims Responsibility for Abduction of BBC Reporter
By Jim Teeple (VOA-Jerusalem)
A little known Islamist terrorist group operating in the Gaza Strip is demanding that
Britain release a radical Islamic cleric in British custody in return for the freedom of
kidnapped BBC Gaza correspondent Alan Johnston.
The group is called Jayash al-Islam, or the Army of Islam. It has posted a recording on
the Internet demanding that British authorities release radical Muslim cleric Abu Qatada
al Filistini, who is in British custody suspected of having links to al-Qaeda. The
speaker, who identifies himself as a member of Jayash al-Islam, says if Alan Johnston is
to be freed Britain must release Abu Qatada and other prisoners.
The recording was posted on a Web site used by radical Islamists, including al-Qaida.
The Web site also displayed what appeared to be Johnston's BBC ID card. It was the first
time since Johnston was seized eight weeks ago that any items that could be identified as
linked to his abduction have been publicly displayed. The recording was also left at the
Gaza offices of the Al-Jazeera news channel.
The group is also believed to have been involved in the capture of Israeli soldier
Gilad Shalit last year.
Judaism, Please. Hold the Deity.
By Jesse Tisch (InterfaithFamily.com)
In a mainstream Jewish synagogue, God is like the pews--pretty much indispensable. Yet
given the number of secular and agnostic Jews in America, it's worth pondering the
question: Can you take the theism out of Judaism? That's the idea behind God-Optional
Judaism, by Judith Seid
God-Optional Judaism is a warm, engaging introduction to the most liberal stream of
Judaism: Secular Humanistic Judaism. Like most Secular Humanists, Seid takes disbelief
seriously. Secular Humanists recoil from "lavish devotion" to God. "Some of us are just
constitutionally unable to say what we don't believe," Seid explains. Instead, they focus
on family, social justice, and Jewish peoplehood. They're on the side of the angels,
without believing in them.
If that sounds new, it isn't. Seid is part of a long tradition of non-traditional
Judaism. In the 20th century, Jews have been Jewish through politics, Yiddish culture, and
the idea that humans, not a deity, have a say in the way the universe is run. As it
happens, Seid is not so much anti-tradition as against the very idea of tradition.
"Who are the real Jews?" she asks at one point--her answer being that we all are, since
there are multiple ways of being Jewish, all equally valid. Once that's out of the way,
we're free to create our own Judaism, based on our own beliefs and principles.
To that end, Seid's book is crammed with advice for crafting your own self-tailored
Judaism. Seid is pro-experimentation: She defends your right to cherry-pick from various
traditions, including Eastern religions. (If you want to dabble in mysticism, Seid won't
judge--though she thinks "Jewish Buddhist" is somewhat oxymoronic.) As for Jewish rituals,
Seid lists plenty of possibilities beyond mainstream Judaism, from a secular shabbot
(Sabbath) to marriage ceremonies to saying Kaddish (prayer said by mourners). If you're
curious about God-optional funerals, Seid has you covered.
If all that makes the book sound chirpy, it occasionally is. But Seid is serious. And
her book's message--that no one should have a monopoly on Judaism--is a serious one. Seid
makes an elegant case for pluralism, based on the idea that Judaism has always tolerated
(if not always embraced) multiple traditions. A quick walk through history proves her
point: From the 8th century Karaites ("strongly anti-clerical") to various mystical
movements in the Middle Ages, to the 19th century Haskalah, or "Jewish Enlightenment,"
Seid compiles a nice list of challenges to rabbinical authority.
Seid's own challenge is mostly polite, though occasionally pointed: Seid thinks the
notion of "real Judaism" has been foisted on American Jews by the Orthodox, who claim that
mantle for themselves. Agree or disagree, the idea of "authenticity" is worth engaging. In
America, it informs every discussion about Israel ("real" Jews support Israel), synagogue
membership ("real" Jews go to shul), and intermarriage ("real" Jews refrain). The cult of
authenticity has profoundly shaped American Judaism, Seid points out. On one hand, it
explains why so many agnostic Jews join religious synagogues: they want the "real" Judaism
of their ancestors (even if their ancestors were atheists). On the other hand, it leads
many American Jews to reject Judaism altogether, since they find "real" Judaism, with its
manifold laws and proscriptions, incompatible with modern life.
The way out of this tangle, Seid realizes, is to broaden the definition of what's
authentically Jewish. Seid truly gets it. What she doesn't do is lecture, kvetch, or
admonish. God-Optional Judaism will find a sympathetic audience with Jews who judge
Judaism too rigid and theistic, too patriarchal or paternalistic. It will appeal to the
progressive side of religious Jews, and to the spiritual side of progressive Jews. And for
those who find the whole idea of God-optional Judaism wrong and offensive, there are some
great Jewish recipes to fall back on.
Jesse Tisch is a freelance writer and the assistant editor of Contemplate: the
International Journal of Cultural Jewish Thought.
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