The Return of the Lockerbie Bomber: Lessons for the Golan

The shameful release of the Libyan convicted of murdering 270 innocent people over, and in, Lockerbie in 1988 disgraces Scotland, its criminal justice system, and its people.

Abdelbaset Ali al-MegrahiThe freeing, on “compassionate grounds”, of Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi (right) by Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill – seemingly more intent on making a name for himself than living up to his title – shows no “compassion” whatsoever for the families and friends of the victims of Pan Am Flight 103, never mind consideration for the rule of law.

Pan Am Flight 103Watching “breaking news” of the Lockerbie mass murder, the biggest in British history, was one of those never-forget-where-you-were experiences – I was sitting on a friend’s couch in Finchley – and, as it transpired, a boy I knew, Marc Tager, was on the flight.

MacAskill’s expressed motivation for releasing Megrahi – Scottish values to show mercy – smacks of the empty cliché:

“In Scotland, we are a people who pride ourselves on our humanity. It is viewed as a defining characteristic of Scotland and the Scottish people.”

To the Scots’ other, less attractive, mythical traits – misery, meanness, and drunkenness – can now be added gross stupidity and insensitivity.

Crater at Sherwood Crescent, LockerbieThe argument that Megrahi, who is said to have terminal prostate cancer, should never have been convicted in the first place is a “red herring” and does not excuse MacAskill’s horrible lack of judgment. If this is the logic of the Scottish Justice Secretary no less, and a member of the Scottish National Party, the Scots are clearly no more ready to govern themselves than their Celtic cousins down in the Valleys.

Some see more than coincidence in Megrahi’s dropping, less than a week before his release, of his second appeal against conviction – at which embarrassing evidence may have come to light exposing a miscarriage of justice and/or a cover-up (see David Horovitz’s article in last weekend’s Jerusalem Post) – whilst the even more cynical link the decision to the increasing interest of Western (including British) energy companies in Libya’s vast oil and gas resources.

More shameless than the decision to free Megrahi, however, was the hero’s welcome put on for his return. Even if Libya disputes his conviction, the sickening scenes of jubilation on the runway in Tripoli were a further slap in the face for the the Lockerbie victims’ families. And, viewing those scenes on TV, I perceived a real warning for Israel . . .

I spent the weekend before last in the Golan Heights, where I talked to Syrian Druze displaced by Israel’s occupation – and, in 1981, formal annexation – of the Heights following the 1967 Six Day War.

Golan Heights DruzeMy discussions did not confirm the oft-heard view – from those whose veins flow even bluer-and-whiter than mine – that these Druze (right) do not really want the Golan to be returned to Syria, because life is better for them in Israel. True, they currently live in a genuine democracy and enjoy greater economic prosperity, but – unlike too many of us Israelis and Jews, who (sadly) attach so much import to the merely material – the Druze lead simple lives, wanting nothing more than to be reunited with their families on the other side of the fence. (For more information on the Golan Druze, and the Golan Heights in general, see Wikipedia.)

I have little doubt that, within the next decade or so, the Golan Heights will  be returned to Syria. But to what end?

"Look into my eyes, my eyes . . ."

"Look into my eyes, my eyes . . ."

Will Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad (right) do his part to guarantee peace along the countries’ (adjusted) common border?

Will he cease providing refuge, in Damascus, for Jew-killers?

And will he withdraw Syria from its dastardly axis with Iran and Hizbollah?

Will he f*ck!

His continual anti-Israel pronouncements aside, just one look at Assad’s eyes are enough to know that (if I may be forgiven for quoting a previous post) “for  Israel to deliver the strategic Golan Heights to the Ass’ Man would be akin to putting a serial paedophile in charge of a kiddies’ paddling pool.”

Assad and the Syrians are no more trustworthy than Colonel Gaddafi and their Libyan “brothers”, who – by granting a convicted mass murderer a hero’s welcome, instead of receiving him in an appropriately low-key manner – exposed themselves to the world as the heartless, amoral lowlifes that they are (indeed, if Megrahi – a former intelligence officer – wasn’t dying, I have no doubt that Gaddafi would be putting him straight back on active duty).

If, or more realistically when, the Golan Heights is returned to Syria, the state-sponsored jubilation will make Megrahi’s welcome, in comparison, seem more like a birthday bash for Bernie Madoff attended by satisfied former clients.

Dictators’ PR stunts, however,  are nothing new, being all they have to offer their long-suffering subjects.

The real question is whether Assad will “be putting” the Golan Heights “back on active duty”, and utilising them for the same purposes as pre-1967 . . . to attack Israeli villages below. With the greatest respect to the memory of the victims of Lockerbie and to the feelings of their families, Israel has far more to lose than ‘merely’ insult and hurt.


78 responses to “The Return of the Lockerbie Bomber: Lessons for the Golan

  1. One simply has to see what happened when Samir Kuntar, a murderer of Israeli Jews in Nahariya (1978) and his subsequent hero’s welcome on his various television appearances throughout the Arab world following his release from an Israeli jail, and the welcome that Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi received to realise that maybe there is a huge cultural divide of understanding at play.

    We could possibly subscribe to the apocalyptic nay-sayers who say that any deal with Arabs is a bad deal or one can actually try and make do with the reality of the situation, namely, the annexed disputed Golan Heights. There are other disputed territories that Syria also lays claim to, one of them being the Iskandaron/Hatay province that Syria lays claim to from Turkey (that is four times larger that the Golan and does not receive four times the amount of attention in the UN, in fact, to be fair, I can’t recall when I ever heard anything about it). Some claim that the pointed issue of the Golan in the world media is simply fuelled by anti-Israel sentiment.

    The Druze I spoke to on my trip to the Golan, notably the manager of the curiously named “Abu Nidal” restaurant (no connection to the same-named terrorist), said he would like to see a return to Syria but also indicated his concern about his standard of living should that take place.

    Any “return” of the Golan would have to be a very carefully managed one and not the debacle of the Gazan “disengagement”.

    Whilst, clearly what should separate us from animals is our duty to have compassion on those (who in our more fetid moments) we wish to kill, there has to be a balance between doing the right thing in order to win our enemies, and cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face.

  2. I believe it wise to release terminally ill prisoners — across the board. Indeed it is rachmim & there should be no measure of how much of it we do.

    That said, there are some practical reasons: our prisons are overcrowded. Releasing the dying will help reduce the load. It costs society lots of money to lock someone up. Due to his “celebrity” status, the cost is probably higher. Even more so, the cost goes up the closer one is to death. Then there is burial. Why should we bear the cost?

    Do we really need to extract that last pound of flesh? Let the families of the imprisoned be burdened w/ all that death encompasses.

    That he has received a hero’s welcome is digusting! Our anger should not be directed to the Scottish minister. Rather it should be directed toward Gaddafi. Let internaional condemnation rain down on him while we (the West) can hold our heads high.

    Being crass, w/ all the crap surrounding the USA’s treatment of prisoners which will be used against us to show the world how evil we are, let us use this exercise in compassion help to untarnish our reputation.

    Re Assad: you may, indeed be right. So far he has shown no inclination to act any differently than he always has. However, miracles have happened in the past. Egypt, well known to be our bitter enemy, eventually saw the light & now is as far from being ready to attack Israel as it was quick to do so a few short years ealier. All I’m saying is ya never know.

    When I say “give peace a chance,” I’m not being naïve. We need to move very carefully & be ready to come down hard on those who would feign interest in peace to further their real evil intentions. We’ve got the big stick — we can afford to walk softly. Just as long as we keep our eyes open. Keeping our eyes open ought not be limited solely to watching out for devious trickery, we need to be equally open to the possibility of peace. Bakeish shalom v’rodfeihu.

  3. Never mind the families of the imprisoned what about the families of the murdered?

    I’m finding it very difficult, gcantory NOT to hurl back a barrage of insults in response to your comments.

    Unfortunately, too many influential people in the West are of the same ‘forgiving’ (sic) mind.

  4. Yes, Dovid, I know, but just how does watching another human being die — yes, he is a human being, just not humane — assuage the pain of those who suffered such a terrible loss? Isn’t keeping him confined through his very last minute a bit like squeezing the last remnants from a tube of toothpaste? If you want him deprived of compassion, he should be released — because those who work as the medical staff of his captors would be forced to offer the gentlest of treatment in his final hours. They can’t help it, thank God, it’s part of their moral fiber as healers. I don’t see Gaddafi as having even 1 ounce of compassion. He will use his man until he is no longer of any value to him. Perhaps if the families could get past their blind rage, they might see that as fitting punishment.

  5. Dovid Maslin

    Squeezing the last remnants from a tube of toothpaste is value for money. Keeping cold blooded murderers – human or not the punishment must fit the crime – in prison is a waste of money.

    Capital punishment is the cost effective and just solution for proven, cold blooded killers.

  6. I don’t know what it is in other countries, but in the US it has been proven that life in prison costs far less than killing someone.

  7. I’m dead against (hehe) capital punishment, especially in a case like this, where the conviction seems far from 100% “safe”.

    But Megrahi was convicted of the crimes, and, until that conviction was quashed, “compassion” should not have come into it (gcantory, full marks for the “tube of toothpaste” analogy . . . definitely the least apposite in the short history of melchett mike!)

    It’s not as if Megrahi had repented and/or been inside for decades (he only served eight years).

    Now, the case of Myra Hindley . . . now that was something else . . .

  8. Dovid Maslin

    The execution procedure would be cheap. The legal process in reaching that procedure might be expensive. The law is a lucrative ass which, in many cases, adds greatly to life’s many injustices.

  9. Dovid, you conveniently avoid addressing the miscarriage of justice issue . . . or does the thought of executing the “wrong man” just not trouble you?

  10. Dovid Maslin

    Yes Mike, the legal system is inconvenient (said the layman to the lawyer).

    How to avoid convicting the wrong one?

    How many people are wrongly convicted of murder?

    Maybe it’s more humane to put the wrongly convicted into prison than to perform executions. The lucky ones might appeal successfully and win back their freedom.

    If that is the case then Justice is in effect compromised by the short comings of the legal system. The standard of Justice provided by the Crown Prosecution Service needs to improve. There are too many lawyers about and not enough good ones.

    Why do people get convicted of murder beyond all reasonable doubt in cases where the circumstantial evidence provided seems feeble? Maybe the accused wore the same mass produced sweater as the murderer on the night of the killing, maybe the prosecution lawyer was great, the defence lawyer was weak and the jury was gullible.

    I don’t believe everyone convicted of murder should be executed only the open and shut cases based upon strong evidence whether it’s circumstantial or direct.

  11. I’m interested that gcantory’s opinion, in common with almost every view I read from non-orthodox Jews and Rabbis the world over, is well to the ‘left’ of the standard political spectrum.

    Why is it that I have never read a ‘hawkish’ article by a progressive Rabbi? Why are they invariably willing to be encouraged and persuaded by any pseudo-concessions made by our enemies, and the first to jump down the throats of Israelis for their supposed ‘provocations’?

    Before you accuse me of trying to score sectarian points, I must tell you that I’m genuinely intrigued by this, and I note of course that there are many similar opinions among orthodox Rabbis and laymen, but as far as I can see there is a marked lack of diversity of opinion in the progressive world, and this is truly a matter of interest.

    Where are the realists, the sceptics, the hawks in the progressive movement? Do they exist but are marginalised? Is it because the progressive movement has never made any serious headway in Israel?

    On ‘social’ policy too, have you ever heard a figure from the progressive movement argue for less welfare, or against socialised medicine, or for capital punishment, or against abortion? Why is this?

  12. Jonathan J Bernstein

    I think that the US should not be in the least surprised by the UK’s release of the Lockerbie bomber (if indeed he wasn’t just a patsy). The UK are so spineless, nay apologetic, when it comes to Arab terrorists.
    Who can forget the eternal shame of the shooting of WPC Yvonne Fletcher from a window of the Libyan Embassy in 1984. The British police subsequently allowed the perpetrator to walk out the door with the weapon ensconced in a diplomatic pouch and they all rode off happily in to the sunset.
    Libya has since headed the UN Security Council (as Arthur Dent once said “evidently the word ‘safe’ has a meaning of which I was previously unaware”).
    Next stop Englewood, New Jersey, unless Shmuly Boteach can prevail……

  13. At the risk of sounding smug, why should “we” on the left deviate from what we see as moral & true? Look at the word “liberal.” There is no “hawk” in “liberal.” 😉

    Even the most right-leaning of the left (what?) start from the position that war, violence, the taking of human life, despoiling the earth & the environment, etc. are wrong & should be avoided at all cost. I know … that’s an oversimplification.

    I see it as being most realistic. Generals say that war is hell. Why would you want to go to hell?

    A.J. Muste, founder of the War Resisters League during WW I, taught, “There is no way to peace, peace is the way.”

    You write of “pseudo-concessions.” I (I’ll speak for myself, not all lefties) am not fooled by false offerings, but what the right chooses to ignore is that real concessions have been made in the Middle East over the years — Egypt & Jordan — which lead one to the knowledge that other concessions are still possible.

    I’ll jump down the throat of any provocateur. I am as quick to condemn the terrorist actions of Syria & Iran as I am the idiocy of the settlers et al.

    Please note that living life guided by torah means that one holds oneself to a higher moral standard (not ritual observance). Therefore, I expect, intend & demand that others observe the same high standards.

    I’m not a fool. I know full well that many do not meet these standards. I know that evil exists. But the God I believe in didn’t create it. I believe the way to undermine evil is to do good, to be rodfei shalom & to become partners w/ God in completing the work of creation. (Which is, in part, creating a world of peace.)

    An aside: God did not finish creating the world. If you believe the 1st (of 2) creation myths in Genesis, God did what God did in 6 days & then went fishing (Americanese for going on holiday). There was more to do — it just didn’t get done. I believe, & it certainly seems unlikely, that God will not finish that work alone — we must become active partners. That’s Tikkun Olam.

    You may see all this as naïveté, but it’s not. I have no illusion that I can don a pair of ruby slippers, close my eyes, tap them together 3 times, proclaim a wish & expect it to be fulfilled. Of course not. What I & others need to do is to roll up our sleeves & do the dirty work of waging peace because that work is far more holy & even more difficult than waging war. Violence is not the answer to violence. That only breeds more violence. We need to sweep the rug out from beneath war & violence.

    So if you’re saying that choosing the waring path is realistic, I beg to differ. In order to survive, there MUST be another way.

    Liberation Theology teaches that a slave can only be enslaved only so long as s/he gives permission to the master to enslave them.

    So, lets apply this practically.

    The reality is that the West is enslaved by the warmongering keepers of the world’s petroleum reserves. Were we to free ourselves — no one else can do it — of our addiction to oil, all of OUR money THEY spend to support terrorism will dry up & these illicit monarchs will be forced to return to fighting over whose goats get to graze where.

    That’s pulling the Persian rug out from under the Persians. They’ve fallen before, they will yet fall.

    But time is running out. We need to do this before they get the upper hand (read nukes). & we must do this before we completely despoil the earth & cause catastrophic climate change & complete environmental disaster.

    So OK, there are hawks on the left, it’s just that we’re different hawks than what you expect.

  14. Dovid, having trained in criminal defence, I am always amazed by how many defendants actually get convicted in England and Wales, rather than the reverse. If juries truly understood the standard of proof “beyond a reasonable doubt” – having had it correctly explained to them by judges – hardly anyone would ever be found guilty.

    There are very few “open and shut cases”. Our firm once represented a defendant charged with burglary who had a lot of relevant “previous”. The only evidence against him was a roll-up cigarette left at the scene with saliva matching his DNA. He argued that he made roll-ups for friends down the pub, any of whom might have committed the burglary. He was acquitted.

    “Justice” is not “compromised by the shortcomings of the legal system . . . the Crown Prosecution Service . . . lawyers”, etc, Dovid, but by our being merely human. The price of living in a democracy, under the rule of law, is that the guilty often walk free.

    Would you have been in favour of executing the Guildford Four, Birmingham Six, Colin Stagg, Barry George, . . . ?

  15. Yes Mike, so true, it is our human fallibility that is the problem here. We have a case of “da mihi factum, dabo tibi ius ” (give me the facts and I’ll give you the law) and “the law [indeed] is an ass”, as Mr Bumble said in Oliver Twist.

    The fact remains that many things should be done, but aren’t, and some things that shouldn’t be done are.

  16. Dovid Maslin

    Mike, the rolled up cigarette case validated the saying, “as thick as thieves,” they seem to get away with a lot.

    Maybe strong evidence could be defined as direct evidence (witnesses at the scene of the crime), backed up by circumstantial evidence (DNA, forensics etc). CCTV footage plays its part too.

    Of course being human impacts greatly on the outcome of cases. Check the impact of the Human Rights Act on the Phillip Lawrence case, another travesty of justice. The problem with being part of the human race is that there are Neanderthal branches of it which pass for human and are treated with compassion not punishment.

    Who makes the laws?

    Are there not or have there not been politicians and a number of prime ministers, hailing from a legal background, cronies at the bar who have gained easy passage into the Whitehall corridors of power. It’s as if some lawyers make the laws to meet their own ends.

    The law is vast with a seemingly endless list of precedents which lawyers can use to ply their trade with and develop their profession. The same lawyers argue, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. I think it is broken, heck knows how to fix it.

    Once I did a week’s work experience at a Solicitor’s in Liverpool for my sins. There was a case in which a 40 something man had gotten ill after being exposed to chemicals at work. The man was a big strapping bloke who had been reduced to a quivering wreck and criched about like a 70 year old with a stick. The Companies involved had detached themselves from all responsibility. We visited a barrister’s chambers, big plush office. A smug, expensively dressed, sun tanned barrister sat behind a rare looking wooden desk and told the man and his solicitor, ‘you’ve got an outside chance if I took on the case but for 3 figures+ an hour, it’s not worth it. You can’t pay.’

    “The price of living in a democracy, under the rule of law, is” ….. Never mind the legal aid as Justice is mainly for the wealthy.

  17. Allan, you make a good point, one that I touched upon in relation to the knee-jerk “blame game” that followed the gay killings in Tel Aviv earlier this month:

    “English football fan-like, many Israelis have chosen their side and will support it whatever.”

    And the same applies to the majority of people who affiliate with a particular religious group (be it ultra-Orthodox, Progressive, or anything in-between), political party, social cause, etc.

    At the risk of hoots of derision from my more left-leaning friends, I consider myself a liberal (if a rather politically incorrect one!) But – whilst an advocate of, inter alia, gay rights and a Palestinian state (as well as a woman’s right to work and to drive) – I prefer to remain totally unaffiliated, and not to formally belong to any particular group or cause.

    Unlike those who are so affiliated (gcantory with Reform, for instance), I can make my mind up pragmatically in relation to any particular issue. And unlike some other liberals, therefore, I experienced little conflict in supporting Operation Cast Lead (in Gaza), even though it led, regrettably, to civilian loss of life.

    Many individuals feel the need to be part of the group . . . at which point, inevitably, dogma, peer pressure, and the “sheep” factor come into play.

    What I am getting at Allan – in a rather long-winded way! – is that you shouldn’t be surprised by gcantory’s towing his “party line” any more than you would be by a member of your shul (I would guess) towing the opposite one.

    To quote Mandy Rice-Davies, “He would say that, wouldn’t he?!”

  18. Ellis Feigenbaum

    A few salient points to everyone . . .
    First of all Mike – George Davis was innocent (kind of).
    Gcantory – you make some interesting points, most of which are naive to the extreme and some of which are downright dangerous.
    Point number one, neither Egypt or Jordan made any concessions in the peace negotiations, they chose Peace for Peace. The only “concessions” made by either of those 2 countries was not to retake possession of land it did not want. Egypt does not want to control Gaza – who can blame them, and Jordan does not want the Old City and all the Palestinian problems which come with it and who can blame them.
    You claim we have to live to a higher moral standard, and yet you ignore the fact that suicidal tendencies within that standard are in effect immoral and dangerous. Refusing to look after your own best interests is a ridiculous stand to take.
    To assume war is about oil is to not understand war at all, war is about power and control of that power, if we create a non fossil regenerating source of energy, that will amount to a new power and wars will be fought over that in due course, all that will change is the protagonists.

  19. The concessions Egypt & Jordan made were to forgo their delight in attacking Israel & to cease trying to wipe her off the map. It’s not “just” peace — it’s a major shift in belief & intent. Don’t trivialize it.

    Yes, it’s true, neither Egypt nor Jordan want the arabic people who now call themselves Palestinians. Nor do any of their arabic brethren. They appear to treat them in much the same way as the (currently) white majority in the SW USA treat Mexican people.

    Nevertheless, they have become an entity & must be dealt w/ as such. As much as we might not like it, we have no choice but to treat them as a nation.

    The late US Prez Richard Nixon, 1 of the greatest fighters against Communism, realized that in regards to China. It was he who opened the door to trade w/ China & who helped force the Western world to recognize China as a nation (instead of pretending she didn’t exist). Had he not done that, we would not have been able to turn to them all these many years later to help save us in our recent time of financial crisis.

    Just as Egypt & Jordan do not want a foreign population multiplying w/in their borders to the extent that they would gain majority status, Israel needs to recognize that it is in her best interest to deal w/ them as a separate nation rather than absorbing them into her society — in which they would quickly become the majority, making Jewish Israelis a powerless minority. And, unlike the monarchy that exists in Jordan, in Israel’s democracy, the majority rules.

    I maintain that living a life directed toward the seeking of peace is not suicidal. What is suicidal is trying to fight our way out of this bag. War is suicidal. More innocents die in war than antagonists. How many innocents are you willing to do away w/?

    Yes, war is about power & control, but most wars derive from rampant nationalism or the irrational belief in religious superiority. Regardless, we are putting weapons into the hands of those who would destroy us. 1st by supporting the governments we see as closer to us until they turn against us (we did this w/ both Iran & Iraq); and 2nd by buying their unique commodity which we cannot live w/o.

    I don’t know how to say it any more clearly: our insatiable demand for oil funds the arab arms race. As does our unending craving for illicit drugs.

    Pull those rugs from under them & they will return to being scorpions scrambling about on their own sand dunes.

    Your final prediction of future wars assumes a defeatist notion that humanity is incapable of learning that all people & nations benefit from peace. That is true naïveté.

    Peace is not a lack of war. Peace is diverse groups of people not only seeking, but actively working toward achieving a world-wide atmosphere of cooperation & respect. That takes a strong will & greater resolve than fomenting violence & destruction. We must work toward our strengths & not give in to our weaknesses.

  20. Allan, my soliloquy(!) above failed to address your primary observations: that “every view [you] read from non-orthodox Jews and Rabbis the world over is well to the ‘left’ of the standard political spectrum”, and that there is “a marked lack of diversity of opinion in the progressive world”.

    I believe you will find that the views of ultra-Orthodox (i.e., haredi) “Jews and Rabbis the world over” will be as homogenously ‘right’ as those of Progressive Jews are homogenously ‘left’.

    The “diversity of opinion” I think you are referring to, Allan, is exhibited by some Orthodox (though not haredi) “Jews and Rabbis” (such as Jonathan Sacks) in the religious centre. (Such progressive – with a small “p” – Orthodox Jews, however, remain a distinct minority.)

    Is it really surprising that the social and political views of Jews at either end of the religious spectrum – ultra-Orthodox and Progressive – are as polarised as their views on God and religion?

  21. Ellis Feigenbaum

    Mr Cantory,
    The reason the west is in financial crisis, is because it entered into an ill advised war and funded the said war with loans from…… wait for it China, ( who currentley after much western presssure still do not have a currency which is tradeable in free market terms). So basically what you are saying is the west made China rich and China is now making the west poor?
    Egypt and Jordan both embarked upon peace because neither of them could afford not to, both of them will return to war if the other side pays more.
    Naievete my dear friend is failing to learn that at no time in history has there not been conflict on this earth, what you are proposing is nothing less than an absolute change in human behaviour. Granted that anyone who has seen armed conflict would never wish to see it again, but take it as a given that my wishes and yours will not change the fact that armed conflict will happen as long as there are people who want to wrest power from other people.
    By the way when you burn wood to heat your home (yes heating fuel is a far bigger expense than automotive fuel) and stop using plastics and make sure your wife never wears stockings and remind yourself that the cannister of airfreshener that contains no cfc`s but is made from polyeurothane actually uses more hydrocardbons by a multiple of a 100 than any cfc that might be contained in the proppelant then maybe you can declare war on oil consumption, untill that time its just hot air.

  22. Daniel Marks

    I have no far abstained from commenting as I really do not understand the question.

    Freeing a mass murderer is not mercy or compassion or anything else, it is lunacy!

    I have no idea as to whether Gcantory represents himself or the Reform movement. In the former case I put it down, once again to an ignorance of basic Judaism. In the latter, I ask (rhetorically as I know the answer) whether the Reform Jewish values do not include the eternal truism of Resh Lakish:

    “Anyone who has mercy on the cruel, will ultimately be cruel to the merciful.”

  23. I speak for myself — I certainly am not empowered to speak for the Reform Movement. I don’t claim to know everything, but whether or not I know basic Judaism goes to the question of which form of Judaism do you accept as normative. Is it the practices of Abraham or Moses or Solomon or tana’im or the amora’im or Rashi or the Besh”t or Schneerson (whom I totally reject), or, or, or …? Yes, you get to choose what normative or basic Judaism is, but so do I.

    Does God’s rachamim apply only to good folks or to all people? I think it applies to anyone in need of rachmim. And since men created God in men’s image, that Divine rachamim is our rachamim & it applies across the board.

    You have every right to believe in a vengeful God, but as long as that’s true, I also have a right to believe in a merciful God. My God — Who IS a Jewish God — did not create evil & cruelty. My Jewish God is not a “man of war.” My God is the God Who commanded us (it’s not a choice) to be rodfei shalom, not rodfei milchamah.

  24. This growing trend of Orthodox bigotry on melchett mike stops right now!

    This is not a frum blog – in fact, it is not an anything blog – but it is starting to read like one.

    Enough “inquisitioning” (okay, I made it up!) of co-religionists less ‘religious’ than yourselves. The constant badgering of gcantory, and other Progressive Jews, by the Orthodox element shows the “ignorance” of the latter only.

    And, Daniel, if you “really [did] not understand the question”, wouldn’t silence have been the best option? It is not compulsory to comment.

  25. thanks mike!

  26. Jonathan Bernstein

    Surely there is a rebbe story for such a situation?!

  27. gcantory said that God is Jewish????

    Maybe he meant to say that God is the God of the whole Universe, which I believe includes Jews .

  28. Dovid Maslin

    Guildford Four, Birmingham Six, Colin Stagg, Barry George, . . .

    The high profile nature of these cases caused the police force and/or the CPS to substitute law enforcement and justice for bounty hunting.

    I remember being sickened by the media frenzy following Jill Dando’s murder. It didn’t take a legal expert to see what might have been happening when Barry George was arrested and taken to trial.

    Often the family of a murder victim is pestered by journalists from local rags for stories before the police have started investigating, regardless of who the victim was.

    Maybe the standard of proof “beyond all reasonable doubt” thing is why a Sanhedrin ( that imposed the death penalty once in seven or once in seventy years was considered bloody.

  29. Yes, I said “god” is Jewish. We call him/her/it by a number of Jewish names. The Christians have a similar god, but they also use the name Jesus. & Islam calls their god Allah. So are you willing to use Jesus or Allah in your t’fillot? If not, you’re directing your thoughts to the Jewish aspect of the universal God. We do not have a monopoly on God, but if you limit god to only Hebrew names, you address a down-sized parochial god. Remember, men created god in the image of men. It really boils down to kavvanah. God is what you believe God to be.

  30. Michael Goldman

    gcantory we meet again.

    Just got back from holiday and I’m trying to catch up.

    You wrote: “I believe it wise to release terminally ill prisoners across the board. Indeed it is rachmim & there should be no measure of how much of it we do.”
    If there should be “no measure” would a broken toe nail do the job?
    Or perhaps we should just give terrorists a really good telling off and send them on their way!!

    You further write: “When I say “give peace a chance,” I’m not being naïve. We need to move very carefully & be ready to come down hard on those who would feign interest in peace to further their real evil intentions.”
    How do we “come down hard ” whilst having an endless supply of rachamim?

    Daniel’s quote of Reish Lakeish hit the nail squarely on the head: “Anyone who has mercy on the cruel, will ultimately be cruel to the merciful.”
    Evil must be treated as Evil!
    If we do not treat it this way it will continue to persucute the innocent.

    By the way if the problem is that “It costs society lots of money to lock someone up”, it may be wise to release the pickpockets before the mass murderers.

  31. Mark Goldman

    Daniel writes: “I have no idea as to whether gcantory represents himself or the Reform movement.”

    Daniel, one of the strengths of the progressive Jewish movement is it’s willingness to embrace divergent views on various religious, social, and political issues. Reform Judaism isn’t a religion of dogma or fundamentalism. Diverse opinions are not shooed away or ridiculed, and those who express them aren’t alienated, or told that they’re a bad person or bad Jew. Hence, my (and many other Progressives) view that releasing the Lockerbie Bomber was wrong. Though I certainly understand the reasoning and moral justification of gcantory.

  32. Ellis Feigenbaum

    Dear Mark,
    Somewhere in the dark recesses of history, around about 1982. I was called up to reserve duty to perform a secret mission.
    Arriving in Haifa I duly reported to my ship for duty, I found it somewhat strange that most of the crew were miluimnikim but I stored my stuff and went down for the briefing.
    We get this briefing first of all sail west for 65 miles. So we sail west for 65 miles and then we get a proper briefing – please go directly to Beirut where we are to pick up 6 soldiers being held in captivity by the PLO.
    Not all of us being thick, we asked the captain what the “deal” was, his answer was memorable “I will tell you afterwards and I have orders to place anyone who refuses to perform this mission in military detention not only for disobeying a direct command but also for mutiny, stand at ease, dismissed.”
    Well afterwards we found out Yasser Arafat and 2000 members of the PLO left Beirut that day also, bound for Tunisia and later for the West Bank.
    How many people have died since then in the name of mercy? The number can be measured at close to ten thousand some of whom I know personally as I knew Marc Tager from the Lockerbie bombing, Yossi Avrahami from the Ramallah lynching, Naftali Lanzkron a sweet 14 year old kid blown up on his way to school and Stephen Bloomberg who lost his pregnant wife to Fatah target practice and remains paralyzed. Some I have never heard of but they too have families and friends that mourn them still, but in the name of mercy I can really live without being merciful to cold blooded killers.
    So if you can understand the reasoning behind it please share, because where I stand (that would be in Israel not the Galut) it would seem like appeasement, and that idea was soon followed by 6 years of bloody war.

  33. Please understand — I am not trying to diminish in any way your military service or it’s tremendous importance. But unless I’m not reading you correctly, you seem to be saying that you feel that your 1`small ship could have stopped 2000 PLO & that the act of releasing 6 of our most dear citizen-soldiers was the only thing that lead to 6 years of terrorism. Wow! I’m sorry — it just doesn’t add up. Would you have had it that they would not release our beloved 6? Would you rather have been on a mission to fight Fatah than your mission of mercy & rescue? Maybe I’ve not been hearing the truth all these years — that saving even 1 Israeli soldier was worth the release of 1000s of our enemies. Please don’t take this the wrong way, but the way I see it, your mission of mercy was entirely worthy & necessary. I hope you are not punishing yourself for saving 6 precious souls instead of fighting, probably to no avail, against all odds. The way I see it is that mercy trumps military victory. To me, that’s 1 of the highest Jewish values — that saving life is far more important than waging war.

  34. Ellis Feigenbaum

    The post was not about my military service , I really dont care if you think of it as important or not.
    No you havent been hearing the truth, about Israeli soldiers or Jewish lives. There does come a point where the price is too high. If this was not the case Shalit would have been released 2 years ago and Ron Arad would have been home with his family instead of dead or worse.
    All governemts make these decisions and they are the hardest decisions they must make on our behalf.
    In 1982 Menachem Begin made a decision, had he known the ultimate outcome he may have made a different one, or he may have made the same one, we will never know.
    The particularly Jewish concept of one who saves a life is as if he has saved a whole world is not anywhere weighed on a scale next to waging war.
    The 2 concepts are separate but occasionally intertwined.
    If you remember your recent history, the options were carpet bombing West Beirut or trading the leadership of the PLO for 6 guys who forgot to post a guard when they went to sleep in enemy territory.
    Had I been given a vote I am still not sure which side I would have voted for, both sides are compelling, for basically the same reason, they assuage ones conscience one for the living and the other for the not yet dead.

  35. Forgive me, Ellis, but – until the more serious part – your “secret mission” tale sounds like the opening of one of Uncle‘s (Only Fools and Horses) “During the war” yarns!

    The Lockerbie case reeks of cover-up, but Megrahi was the man convicted and, until that was overturned, “compassionate grounds” should not have come into it.

    And, re your discussion with gcantory, I am with you “Uncle” (see my earlier post, Why Gilad must not be freed “at any price”).

  36. Ellis Feigenbaum

    I fink im gonna cock a deafen del boy, an leave you on your tobler about what I did in the kate.
    But I still fink the guys a bit tong.
    When we going down the jack for a tiddley or a bit of michael, its been a while.
    ps. I will translate this entry for any of your readers that do not speak rhyming slang or have never heard of fools and horses (possibly the best sitcom ever made or at least up there with Fawlty Towers and Porridge) for a small fee.

  37. Ellis Feigenbaum

    At the request of the author of this blog and for an undisclosed fee I present a translation of the above.
    I think i shall pretend loss of hearing (cock a deafen) and leave you alone (on your toblerone) about what I did in the army (kate karney).
    I still think the guy is a little wrong (pete tong).
    When are we going to the bar (jack tar) for a drink (tiddley wink) or a bit of dinner (michael winner).

  38. Michael Goldman

    Am I to understand that “men created god in the image of men” to mean that, rather than G-d creating man, you believe that man created G-d?
    If I understand you correctly, G-d is therefore a fictional character rather like Superman or Sherlock Holmes.

    Sorry, but I fail to understand the strength of a movement that believes in nothing!

  39. I knew that would get someone’s attention.

    Yes, men (not women) created the understandings we commonly have about God. The Bible was written by men, the images it contains are those that came from their imaginations. That ought to be fairly simple to understand.

    For some reason, however, those writings gained a unique stature in human consciousness. Wow … what a PR job! The authors of Judaism (& later Christianity, standing on their shoulders) were probably more successful at “selling” their ideas than they thought possible. & people bought it. & that trust was passed from generation to generation.

    After a while people forgot to question it. Yes, question. We’re permitted to ask questions, you know. In fact we’re taught from the earliest age to ask questions. Remember? There are 4 of them. But the thing is, once trained to ask questions, the Jewish mind just can’t stick to a set routine of questions. Therefore, all things are up to be questioned.

    So we come back to the question of who wrote the Bible. I will not go into a discourse. Many books have been written on the subject. If you want to know more, read.

    Just because I don’t believe in the fiction you’ve swallowed hook, line & sinker, you claim I don’t believe in anything. You’re quite wrong. Just because I don’t believe that the Torah is the word of (the men-created) God, does not mean I don’t believe in the lessons it teaches. Or, at least, many of them. For me, the Bible does not have to be literally true to be valid.

    My God (to borrow a phrase), what little faith you truly have! If it could be proven to you that your current illusions are not true, it would utterly destroy your faith. Not me. I understand that the truths the men who conceived of & wrote the Bible have value that stands for all time. I just refuse to believe in bubbe mayses.

  40. Michael Goldman

    You ignore the question I have asked you several times.
    Do you believe in a G-d who created the universe with intent ?

  41. NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition!

  42. Sorry — I thought I answered it. In your previous post you wrote: “I fail to understand the strength of a movement that believes in nothing!” I answered that — I/we DO believe in something. Just because it’s not your fairy tale does not make it nothing.

    Now, to answer more directly, maybe. It depends on what you mean by God. If you mean the God of the Bible — as written & described therein — then, no. However, if by God we mean the force behind, or perhaps more properly, before the big bang, or whatever else science will discover that might precede even that, then, yes.

  43. Michael Goldman

    We’re getting there.

    Did your G-d create the universe with the intent that human beings would be created?

  44. …. nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!

  45. “We’re getting” where exactly, Michael? To gcantory admitting that his whole belief system and Weltanschauung, and that of all Progressive Jews the world over, is based on falsehoods and lies . . . and to thanking you, Michael Goldman, for making him realise that?!

  46. After having been reprimanded for bullying Gcantory, I’m actually beginning to identify with the guy.

    He’s being chased around the blog by Moshe Goldman, forever trying to pin him down to define his beliefs, doing the best he can to change the subject, always more comfortable saying what he doesn’t believe in, than what he does.

    Goldman originally found him on the blog about the gay murders in Tel Aviv,demanded answers to 7 questions and refused to let him go.

    After considerable effort Gcantory was eventually able to do a runner to this page, hoping he’s have the chance to peacefully support the early release of a Libyan mass murderer in the name of “rachamim” (mercy) when Goldman caught up with him again. Same questions, same “answers”.

    I saw Goldman making it to the semi-finals of a prestigious national arm-wrestling championship last week, and for those readers who are not personally acquainted with him, let me assure them that he’s a big, ugly bloke – not the type you’d want to meet in an empty blog page on a dark night.

    Were Gcantory to vamoose from this page too, and recamp in one more congenial to his seniblilities in the name of rachamim, chesed or any other transliteration I, for one would not blame him.

  47. Michael Goldman

    Not at all Mike.

    I’m really just trying to understand the difference between what gcantorgy believes and atheism.

  48. It’s one thing to ask someone about their belief, it’s another to ask with seemingly ulterior and impure motivation, using methods of questioning as have been employed in this forum and is more akin to protecting dogma practised by the Catholic inquisition.

  49. Side-splitting sarcasm aside, Daniel, why should gcantory have to “define” – or, more accurately (in view of the tone of the inquisition), defend – “his beliefs” to you, Michael . . . or to anyone?

    And why does it so trouble and unsettle you and Michael that there are Jews out there who “don’t believe in the fiction you’ve swallowed hook, line & sinker”?

  50. Thanks Daniel, Steve & Mike.

    Michael, what you refuse to recognize is that there are many answers to your eternal questions & that if an answer is given that rubs you the wrong way, you immediately characterize it as “falsehoods & lies.”

    Believe that if you must, but it just isn’t true. Who made you god-of-all-that-is-right? I am trying not to insult your narrow views, DON’T insult mine.

    As I’ve said before, Judaism DOES change over time. Just because you choose to keep your head buried in the sands of time does not mean that you have the right to define what Judaism is or isn’t. Sorry if that sticks in your throat. Choke on it if you so choose.

  51. I think that we are all in fundamental agreement here that Gcantory has done his very best to answer Michael’s (Goldman) questions.

    I praise him on the mixed metaphor; “…your head buried in the sands of time ” which my wife, also an avid Days of Our Lives junkee will, without doubt, appreciate.

    As a chess player of some prowess it is time for Goldman to conclude that his attempt to engage Gcantory has, at best, reached a stalemate position and at worst a zugswang.

    Finally, my fear is that the person who stands to gain the most from any further Goldman-Gcantory altercations is Megrahi himself. The subject of this page who is no doubt sitting in Libya laughing at the two Zionists dogs (nothing personal) who are marking his release with a minor cyber-war.

    Let us unite behind the things that all hold eternally true and sacred, without arguing between ourselves as to what they are.

  52. And a serious answer to your question Mike.

    I have never engaged you over your religious convictions nor Marks or any other non-Orthodox Jew. What every individual believe and does is his/her business. None of us are wholly consistent, we are all sinners and we are all hypocrites.

    I maintain that in the case of Gcantory an exception should be made because in his because in his first posting, almost two months ago he wrote:

    “You don’t know me — yet. So let me clearly say that as a religious leader, I believe……”

    I argue that someone who sees himself as a “religious leader” has a higher level of accountability than mere mortals such as you and myself. Incidentally, I include Osher Baddiel in the same category.

    Leaders are supposed to have clear, if not always simple, answers to difficult questions. They are supposed to know who they’re leading, where they’re leading them and how they’re going to lead them there.

    For all these reasons I believe the questions were/are legitimate but I also honestly believe that in his own way Gcantory thinks that he’s answered them, therefore, I think any further debate, as Steve says, would be quite pointless.

  53. Michael Goldman

    Gcantory is obviously under no obligation to answer any of my questions or explain any of his beliefs.

    None of my questions were asked in an aggressive tone and I apologise if they sounded that way.

    To the best of my knowledege I have not characterized anything as “falsehoods & lies.”

    I do not claim to be you “god-of-all-that-is-right”

    My intention is to to prove that my belief is better or more correct than anyone else’s but only to understand what gcantory’s belief is.

    Sorry but I don’t understand why you find this so upsetting or why it provokes you to quote me writing things I never wrote.

  54. Michael Goldman


    I’m going to go a little further now.

    As Daniel wrote you defined yourself as a religious leader.

    You further with no provocation insist on inserting in your postings your ideas about G-d.

    When I question what YOU posted on the blog, you claim to know what I refuse to recognize, what rubs me the wrong way and further tell me that I characterize your answers as “falsehoods & lies.”

    None of which is based on anything I wrote!!

    You further tell me that because of these things which I didn’t write I see myself as “god-of-all-that-is-right”

    In addition you write that you are in fact insulted by all these things which you made up yourself.

  55. Michael, my apologies. It was Mike who used the term falsehood & lies. My theological discourses, however, began (again) w/ your question written on 8/31 @ 8:31 AM when you wrote, “Am I to understand that “men created god in the image of men” to mean that, rather than G-d creating man, you believe that man created G-d? If I understand you correctly, G-d is therefore a fictional character rather like Superman or Sherlock Holmes.”

    Things began to deteriorate from there.

    But yes, I do take umbrage when my beliefs & the teachings I have received are the subject of scorn. You have every right to disagree w/ me (as I do w/ you). However, you, or anyone else, do not have the right to claim that you are in possession of the 1 & only truth.

    A number of years ago the Conservative Movement published a short treatise describing what Conservative Jews believe. This was revolutionary because they always said they didn’t need such a thing because they considered themselves to be the embodiment of normative Judaism. Nevertheless, they issued “Emet Ve’emunah.”

    There is a refreshingly welcome tidbet of chochmah in that small tome. It says that they believe in “religious humility.” Truly radical! It means that they now admit, publicly, that they do not have the only answer to all these religious questions.

    Would that religions world-wide adopt that same modest philosophy. It would go a very long way in reducing the number of wars which currently rage across our planet … & in the blogosphere.

    It is not my intent to raise these issues ad nauseam. I would very much like to drop all this, but I continue to be challenged to further refine my beliefs because a number of participants wish to hold me to a higher status due to my position as a religious teacher. So please forgive me if these writings have taken on a pedagogic aura.

    If we can come to consensus, let us agree to disagree & leave it at that.

  56. Michael, it is quite comical seeing – or, rather, reading – you get your knickers in a twist . . .

    You have been winding gcantory up for weeks now (even if unintentionally). In spite of all your provocations, however, he has remained entirely calm (and certainly more so than I would have) and responded with restraint.

    But he mistakenly attributes three words to you – actually written by me, but which I think very fairly represent everything you have been writing about Reform Jewry all these weeks – and you are not happy.

    Seeing as none of this seems clear to you, by way of illustration . . .

    Your friend Daniel has regularly “defined” himself as a teacher of religious studies. Do you consider that that entitles other readers of melchett mike to demand to see his qualifications, and/or to interrogate him on his religious views? I certainly don’t.

    Moreover, in spite of your peculiar seeming-assumption above, gcantory doesn’t require “provocation” from anyone to “insert” on melchett mike his “ideas about G-d” (or anything else for that matter).

    Indeed, I think gcantory’s question to you – “Who made you god-of-all-that-is-right?” – is more than fair and reasonable in the light of your unrelenting pursuit of answers: i) that you want to hear, and ii) that he has no obligation to provide.

  57. Michael Goldman

    I also apologise if my remarks seemed pompous.

    I do not have a problem with myself or anybody else claiming to have the one and only truth.

    That is not what causes wars.

    What causes wars is trying to force one’s beliefs on others.
    I believe that the Torah has the one and only answer and I don’t see why that should be a problem to you or anybody.
    I have no intention to force that belief on you or anybody else.

    My questions to you were not meant to be rude but were a real attempt to understand your ideology.
    When I asked what the difference is between your beliefs and atheism it was a serious question.

    I have no problem agreeing to disagree or continuing the discussion , whichever you prefer.
    I do however feel that if you mention religious issues or for that matter any other issues on the blog that I have a right (with Mike’s permission) to comment, as does anyone else on anthing I post.

  58. Ellis Feigenbaum

    As an aside,
    Judaism is based on questioning, even down to the most basic beliefs about god and who created the world and who wrote the torah.
    However once we have done questioning if the conclusions we come up with are that god didnt create the world and didnt write the torah and was in fact created by man what we believe in is no longer judaism.
    This does not mean we are no longer jewish or we are no longer part of the jewish colective, it just means we have subscribed to a belief structure which is not part of the basic jewish tenet “God gave the torah at sinai, and passed it to moses and then to joshua and then to the elders”.
    Choosing not to believe this does not make you a bad person, a good person, a clever person or a fool, free choice is something we all have. If anyone has the time to read the preface to Netzach Yisrael by the Maharal, he gives a most elegant description of what free choice actually is.
    But whatever we chose it to be, changing the basic belief structure of an organisation makes that organisation something else.
    Once William Webb-Ellis picked up the ball and started to run with it, it was no longer football but rugby.
    Once Abraham Geiger had made his move it was no longer judaism but something closely similar to it but in essence totally different.

  59. “It means that they now admit, publicly, that they [the Conservative movement] do not have the only answer to all these religious questions.”

    Finally, we have found something that we can all agree on.

  60. Mark Goldman

    Atheism (Webster’s definition): disbelief in the existence of a deity, the doctrine that there is no deity.

    Both gcantory and myself have on numerous occasions confirmed our belief in God.

    Indeed you yourself wrote (June 17 09) “the fact that my brother doesn’t believe in the truth of the Torah does not mean that he doesn’t believe in G-d which I know for a fact he does.”

    Let’s move on bro.

  61. Jonathan Bernstein

    gcantory wrote: ““religious humility.” Truly radical! It means that they now admit, publicly, that they do not have the only answer to all these religious questions.”

    Surely that is polytheism in disguise! Many of the spinoff religions from Judaism cry polytheism in the form “we respect your beliefs, now you must respect ours.” Why? Just because they choose to follow their own path (which they themselves acknowledge to be predicated on ours) does not make them right. And they cannot demand I say so (cf Spanish Inquisition..which nobody expected). The very fact that you accept other faiths have a valid point reduces yours to nothingness. Orthodox Jewry believes in a G-d, who created and maintains this world and all of its inhabitants. Anything less than that is ignorance at best and blasphemy at worst.

    If you don’t believe that then you might as well stay at home for Rosh Hashana. What use is proclaiming G-d king if he is a figment of your imagination?

  62. Daniel Marks


    While Engaging the revered Moshe Goldman you try your hand at art with a charming illustration. It begins with the simple premise: “Your friend Daniel has regularly “defined” himself as a teacher of religious studies.”

    Let me state quite categorically that I am not, nor have I ever been, a teacher of religious studies. I haven’t said it regularly or sporadically or hardly ever. I’ve never said it because I’m not. Read your own blog, mate.

    For my sins I do give a very short parshat hashavua after the 5:50 minyan on Fridays and also a gemara shiur most Shabbat afternoons to my adopted son. I also give a weekly shiur on midrash analysis during the summer holidays on Tuesday mornings. I learn gemara quite regularly and give a dvar torah here and there, when called upon.

    All these trifles are, naturally, done pro bono and none of them qualify me, in any way, as a teacher of Jewish Studies. Torah plays a significant part of my life but a zero part in my livelihood.

    Neither am I a religious leader, unless being the gabay of the 6:30 minyan qualifies me as one.

    That having been said, I have no objection to being “Interrogated”. I have an answer to every question even if it’s more often than not, “I don’t know”.

  63. Michael Goldman


    My questions were directed at gcantory not you.

    Wikipedia definition of deity: a postulated preternatural or supernatural immortal being, who may be thought of as holy, divine, or sacred, held in high regard, and respected by believers.

    Does that work for you and Greg (gcantory)?

  64. Okay, Daniel, here is a question . . .

    Did my wrongly thinking you a “teacher of religious studies” – and many would still consider that you are (look at any definition of “teacher”) – truly warrant a 223 word reply?!

    And, even with those 223 words, you still somehow contrived to entirely miss the point I was raising (re the right to “interrogate”, in case you still can’t see it) . . . but to take the discussion back to yourself.

    Should I perhaps rename this blog ma’ale marks?

  65. Jonathan et al. — there are many definitions of Judaism. Just because you accept only one does not make it true. It is true for you, but not for all time & all people & all Jews.

  66. 1. I suspect there may have been a compliment there so thanks.

    2. I missed no point. Your question was whether Jewish Studies teacher’s should be interrogated too. I answered that I’m not a Jewish Studies teacher but feel free to interrogate me all the same.

  67. Jonathan Bernstein


    According to you there are many definitions of Judaism. According to me there are many Jews who practise what they feel is Judaism.

    I accept that you believe there is more than one genuine practice and I am sure you can accept the fact that I don’t. You have to accept all strands of Judaism because you are seeking acceptance for yours. I don’t.

  68. Jonathan, where do you get all that fire and brimstone from?! 😉

    In my view, it is intolerance which has driven many Jews to Reform, while persuading others to (in your words) “stay at home for Rosh Hashana”.

  69. Jonathan Bernstein,

    You say: “I accept that you believe there is more than one genuine practice and I am sure you can accept the fact that I don’t.”

    Am I to understand you to be saying that in any given life situation, choice or dilemma, there is, in your opinion, only one “genuine” Jewish response or recommended practice?

  70. Jonathan Bernstein

    Mike, there are worse role models.

    Daniel, for ‘practice’ read ‘framework’.

  71. Jonathan, I of course didn’t mean to suggest otherwise (the two paragraphs in my comment above should be read separately). As I think I have already told you, as a result of the Dublin “brotherhood”, my father – even though he didn’t know yours (being almost 25 years older) – followed his career closely and was, in a way, very proud of his achievements.

  72. “Daniel, for ‘practice’ read ‘framework’.”

    Could you please elaborate?

  73. Jonathan Bernstein

    There are many valid responses to life’s manifold situations. Many of those are ‘Jewish’. What determines whether they are ‘Jewish’ or not depends on whether or not they are framed from the perspective of G-d being the ultimate source and creator (which seems to be a uniquely orthodox perspective apparently).
    You can have opinions espoused by Jews, but does that make them Jewish opinions?

  74. If I might correct ONE minor error. Israel did NOT annex the Golan in 1981 or any other year, because they knew that this step would be very hard to reverse. In reality, they extended the jurisdiction of Israeli civil laws, to cover the Golan territories.

  75. You’re ignorance shows no bounds. You are a racist. Your “stereotyped” imagery of Scots could just as easy be said about Jews. When your own country is in order then perhaps you can be more valid of judging 5 million Scots.
    ” the Scots are clearly no more ready to govern themselves than their Celtic cousins down in the Valleys” – this sounds like persecution and supression to me.
    And what’s more – you’re a lawyer – anyone familiar with the case knows that this man is just a scapegoat – the fact he is innocent IS NOT a red herring! There was one witness who was paid 2 million bucks to testify (whilst being described by one of the judges as “an apple short of a picnic”.
    Firstly, I would like an apology for your racial slur.
    Secondly, I would recomend you read this site – ( – set up by one of the victim’s father, Dr Jim Swire. Perhaps you may be enlightened, or perhaps you can cling on to your prejudices and attack those with values and decency.

  76. Given the latest revelations about BP’s shameful involvement in getting him released in exchange for a license to drill off Libya, as well as the info that he’s still alive long after the 3 months expected for him due to prostate cancer, makes all sympathetic speculation bullshit.

  77. What would you “like an apology for”, Callum? Are “misery, meanness, and drunkenness” not “mythical [look it up in the dictionary] traits” of the Scots? What are, then? Unbounded joy, kindness and sobriety?!

    What I actually wrote was:

    “The argument that Megrahi, who is said to have terminal prostate cancer, should never have been convicted in the first place is a “red herring” and does not excuse MacAskill’s horrible lack of judgment.”

    Once again, Callum, you might want to put your hand in your pocket for a good dictionary . . . Megrahi’s potential (and that is all it is) innocence is “something irrelevant that distracts attention from the real issue” (Penguin English Dictionary definition of “red herring”). The “real issue”, in this case, is whether Megrahi should have been released on “compassionate grounds” for a conviction – NOT overturned – for the murder of 270 innocent people.

    My post continued (your dishonest, partial quote hides the context):

    “If this is the logic of the Scottish Justice Secretary no less, and a member of the Scottish National Party, the Scots are clearly no more ready to govern themselves than their Celtic cousins down in the Valleys.”

    I further wrote that:

    “the even more cynical link the decision to the increasing interest of Western (including British) energy companies in Libya’s vast oil and gas resources.”

    And, as Greg points out, the recent BP allegations – combined with Megrahi’s miraculous recovery – make my original post even truer now than it was almost a year ago.

  78. It’s nice that Bashar Assad took time out of his very busy schedule of butchery to celebrate eid. Assad knows that if he fails to destroy the opposition his evil regime will suffer the same fate as that of Gaddafi. Syrian opposition has a tougher job because there is not so much investment by NATO countries in Syria as there is in Libya, so no NATO support will be forthcoming. We all know that the release of the Lockerbie terrorist by Scotland to a victory parade under Gaddafi’s gleeful eyes, was simply a bribe for oil contracts. Gaddafi knows where he can safely flee now, and NATO needs to start looking for him in Scotland. Here’s some helpful clues in the link.

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