Effect Measure

We may be on vacation, but flying Rabbis with trumpets deserve a day of their own and because it’s swine flu related there is no escaping this delectable item. PZ over at Pharyngula even had a link to a video which is something to behold. But first, for those of you who haven’t heard the latest in public health measures against SWINE flu (which the ultra orthodox Israeli Health Minister won’t permit to be called swine flu because pigs are unclean, which is why we shouted it in caps for emphasis), we present you with the death defying show from Kabbalah Airlines:

Dozens of rabbis and Kabbalah mystics armed with ceremonial trumpets have taken to the skies over Israel to battle the H1N1 flu virus, Israeli media said on Tuesday.

About 50 Jewish holy men chanted prayers and blew ritual rams’ horns known as shofars in an aircraft circling over the country in the hope of stopping the spread of the virus, some of those involved in Monday’s venture were quoted as saying.

“The aim of the flight was to stop the pandemic so people will stop dying from it,” rabbi Yitzhak Batzri told the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, which carried a picture of the bearded men praying while airborne.

“We are certain that, thanks to the prayer, the danger is already behind us,” added Batzri, who could not be reached for further comment on Tuesday. (Reuters)

And here’s a link to the video (h/t PZ): BBC News story and video

Since this video might not stay up, here’s a pic to memorialize the blessed event from The Guardian (thanks to reader CC):


Enough frivolity. Despite its freakish appearance, the essence of this quackery (a term I prefer to “woo”) is this. These folks believe there is a supernatural power whose favors can be unlocked with a secret chant from a sacred book that only they know. Said that way, it isn’t much different than the local reform Rabbi asking for God to help the community in its travails or the numerous Christian, Muslim, Hindu, etc., etc., clerics (to say nothing of our know nothing politicians) who will ask us to pray for God’s (or Jahweh’s or Vishnu’s or Allah’s or the Savior’s) protection should swine flu revisit in the fall in a nastier form. When they do that, summon up the image of the Flying Rabbis and their trumpets. And remember that it truly is as crazy as it looks.

Addendum: We have been lampooning the crazies of fundamentalist and non-fundamentalist religions for years here and we do it every Sunday. It is a regular feature of this site. We have explained why on numerous occasions and we won’t do it again. It is curious that if we display the wackiness of other malignant sects (malignant because of their political activities in addition to their particular superstitions) we don’t get comments that we are being culturally insensitive. That happens when we show that craziness is indeed non-sectarian. But if you read this post again, you will see we are saying more: what the crazies are doing (and they are crazies) isn’t really different than what mainstream religions do and espouse. That’s the cultural component. Fundamentalists are crazies because they do it in a way that is on the margins of the culture. Billy Graham is one of these guys with a suit on. He’s not a crazy. But he is also a quack.


  1. #1 GC
    August 16, 2009

    It’s sad. Some Internet non-orthodox news papers in Israel had that story in the headlines.

    btw, you got me going on Israeli politics… there’s no health minister this days in Israel, there’s a crazy orthodox second in command, but the minister position is open. Thank god for that! we can still call it swine flu.

  2. #2 Jim Tobias
    August 16, 2009

    Clearly devotees of the Flying Ein Gedi Mitzvah.

    Swine Flu Over the Cuckoo’s Nest?

    By the way, there appears to be at least one passenger who’s thinking, “Kabbalah mystics? I thought they said there’d be a couple of Thai sticks on this flight.”

    Thanks; I’ll be here all week. Try the pork. And don’t ask the waiter about his tip.

  3. #3 C. Corax
    August 16, 2009

    This will work when pigs fly.

  4. #4 Pierce R. Butler
    August 16, 2009

    This has got to be a hoax.

    We all know the orthodox way of defending Israel against anything requires wholesale bombing of Arab civilians…

  5. #5 Phillip Huggan
    August 16, 2009

    I’m now an indoor pig farm lobbyist. I wasn’t previously aware indoor farms don’t have open sewage lagoons. Are obviously isolated from sick outdoor birds.

  6. #6 Julie, RN
    August 16, 2009

    And if any of them do get sick, they’ll rely on the “miracle” of modern medicine…

  7. #7 Osame Kinouchi
    August 16, 2009

    Although God probably do not exist, these rituals work: they probably prevent panic dissemination in the population…

  8. #8 River
    August 16, 2009

    You know, on the one hand, I scoff at the flying rabbis, but on the other, I applaud their verve. At least they were doing something they believed would save people’s lives, though their effort would definitely have been more effective if they had also dropped thousands of little parachuted care packages containing Kleenex, hand sanitizer, a three day supply of Tamiflu or Relenza, a s–ne flu information sheet in Yiddish, Arabic, French, and English, an a couple of chocolate bars.

    PS: In the interest of complete disclosure… When I first read the article, I thought it said, “Dozens of rabbits and Kabbalah mystics armed with ceremonial trumpets have taken to the skies over Israel to battle the H1N1 flu virus, Israeli media said on Tuesday.” What a picture that planted in my mind!

  9. #9 revere
    August 16, 2009

    River: Well, that’s one way to look at it. But I doubt very much they were trying to save the lives of you or me or their Arab neighbors or Christians, Muslims, HIndus or atheists. They were out to save “their” Israel. If they had been rabbits I might be more forgiving (although it wouldn’t be any less daft). They were human beings. And they were crazies.

  10. #10 Molly, NYC
    August 16, 2009

    One more blow against the vicious stereotype that all Jews are smart.

  11. #11 Lea
    August 16, 2009

    Sad, really sad and amazing how backwards and Archaic all rituals are. This isn’t going to save anyone of them.

    Do these people end up with neck and spine problems from all the gyrations they go through while praying?

  12. #12 neil
    August 16, 2009

    Wow. I can only imagine just how many requests you received to provide some mockery (er. maybe “tribute”) to this wonderfully enacted custom.

    I can see the tinker in “The Wizard of Oz” pulling on the levers and pushing the pedals, extolling “I am Oz” until little toto and dorothy de-mystify him.

  13. #13 Phillip Huggan
    August 16, 2009

    …wrong, still lagoons. But pigs distanced from birds in high-footprint indoor piggeries, and maybe lagoons can be covered to keep out birds. (freethinker is open thread isn’t it? don’t mean to hijack.

  14. #14 mediajackal
    August 16, 2009

    Phillip: No, right, no lagoons. Er, awkwardly worded, in’t it? Confined Animal Feeding Operations (aka CAFOs or pig barns) most often store the manure in water-proof (hopefully) pits under the barns. The floors have slots through which piggie poop falls. About every six months, the pits are emptied and the naturally organic fertilizer (snark) is applied to cropland. One of two methods is used; the manure is either “knifed,” or injected, into the soil, or the mixture is sprayed. Knifing is preferred to aerosol, I’m told by hog farmers; gets to the crop faster, lessens odor.

    Lagoons probably could be covered, but then you’d have to figure out how to vent the accumulating gases.

    And if this IS off-topic, apologies to all, and where should we migrate?

  15. #15 Phillip Huggan
    August 16, 2009

    Thank you very much, media. I’m wondering if the manure applied to farms would be worth worrying about in terms of nearby sick birds being exposed to sick pig crap.
    Never before this spring would I have considered endorsing CAFOs.

  16. #16 mediajackal
    August 16, 2009

    Phillip: Briefly? I dunno. Here’s a link (I hope) to a study which you may find helpful, done at Purdue University (which is also a great resource for all things piggie):

  17. #17 Phillip Huggan
    August 16, 2009

    Thx media. I’m planning on costing transfer of outdoor intensive pig farms to CAFOs this October or November, when everyone isn’t on a beach or beergolfing. Genuinely hope to continue this public threaded conversation when I have more to contribute.

  18. #18 River
    August 16, 2009


    Crazies? Indeed. But unless the rabbis and Kabbalahs were also adding to their sacred prayers “… and may the filthy pig flu bring agonizing death to all heretics and anti-Semites,” or dropping parachuted care packages containing A/H1N1-contaminated kerchiefs and poisoned chocolate bars on Muslim areas, they were benign and well-intentioned. Where is the harm? Where is the foul?

    Good for a laugh? Sure. Good for condemnation? I don’t think so.


  19. #19 revere
    August 16, 2009

    River: No harm, no foul. But no praise, either. Perhaps I have had bad experiences with the type, but I do not endow them with charity to others outside the tribe. And their tribe is pretty small.

  20. #20 bigbruther
    August 16, 2009


    I’m going to get slammed for this, but I’m okay with that, and you seem reasonable enough in your responses (at least the ones I’ve seen over the last year or two) that I feel comfortable airing a contrarian view.

    I actually found your post troubling. Although my sense is you were trying to essentially highlight what you see as the ridiculousness of religious ritual in facing H1N1, it was interwoven with strands of sarcasm, patronization, and an air of superiority masked as a kind of pithy wit from someone who clearly knows better than “these folks.” It didn’t really help that in comment #9 your dig against the rabbis became a dig against either their motives, Israeli nationalism, or something in-between. Fine.

    It strikes me as odd, though, that someone who espouses a progressive view won’t embrace a complementary view which holds difference in cultural practices not against the standard of The One True Science and Reason (i.e., yours), but as part of a web of understanding which gives meaning and enriches the lives of whole groups of people, whole communities, whole nations even.

    I’ll put it bluntly. Mocking orthodox Jews is unbecoming of this site, and unbecoming of the standard of excellence that you usually adhere to in your posts.

    What is fair game for this blog is decisions made by the health ministry which may put individuals at risk of exposure needlessly. Although you mention the ministry – acutally, the “ultra orthodox health minister” in passing, you quickly veered from a legitimate critique of a government institution to person and culture bashing.

    I expect I’m gonna get an earful for expressing this view, that’s fine too. I’ll just say, as a passionate atheist and CDC health scientist working on H1N1 response in this country, that belief in rational thought and reason as keys in the fight against H1N1 (if I can employ the battle metaphor for the moment) does not preclude respect for cultural difference nor does it generally give license to mock devout believers. When devout belief mixes with public policy and creates credibility problems, or the perception thereof, ala Francis Collins, it’s a different story, but this just came across, to me anyway, as a cheap shot.

  21. #21 Paul
    August 16, 2009

    Just arrived to this situation late.

    bigbruther: I’ll bet you 5 bucks that as I’m writing a response to revere, he, at the same time, is typing his usual disclaimer to folks like yourselves, who express honest offense when he seems to go over the line. In your case, where you wonder that this excellent science site should stoop to this silliness, you’re going to get his disclaimer #1: i.e., it’s his blog and he’ll damn well post whatever he wants. You know, similar to kids in arguing over some valid differences in the rules of the game they’re playing. At some point, the guy who feels he’s just been called on something not quite right in his understanding of the rules, just takes his ball and goes home – it’s his ball/blog; end of game/well written protest.

    Now to my issue, revere. I’ve heard you cite the following dilemma many times, but as it referred to your folks.

    OK: here are these rabbis, praying their hearts out that this flu doesn’t kill lots of their countrymen (and unless you’re a One World Order Utopian – you and I have had this discussion recently), I’d wager most folks see nothing wrong about praying for the welfare of their own country.

    So: nothing happens, pandemic fizzles, and guys like you get a chance to make even more fun of these antics. After all, nothing happened, right?

    However, you really do raise some analogies here that I have difficulty reconciling.

    Now, let’s take epidemiologists and all their scientific colleagues in the public health system. They go all out, do everything they can to keep this pandemic from doing nasty stuff they fear might happen, along with trying to enlist the public in spending money, and making other sacrifices _ all valid. In fact, if they’ re successful, *NOTHING HAPPENS.* And all the people who have been put out one way or another look at you in a bit of a questioning way (you know, as if you were wearing some kind of silly black hat, long beards, etc.) and mockingly say, what was *that* all about? Nothing happened. Try proving the negative, right?

    Yet, if you make the very same efforts the pandemic turns out to be a disaster, they’re sure to complain you guys didn’t do enough.

    Similarly, if the pandemic is a disaster in Israel, everyone’s going to accuse the poor rabbis of not praying hard enough.

    Can you help me out with this? Cause it seems you epidemiologists have the same dilemma, in the same fight against this pandemic, both of whom have only the finest motives in their hearts – to save lives.

    One more thing: you seem to have a problem with these guys just praying for Israel (a country that also happens to have a good many Arab citizens, who are also represented in the Israeli parliament). You presume they only want the Jewish citizens of their country to survive.

    I’ve attended synagogue prayers in many cities of this country, and without fail, one of their concluding prayers prior to the benediction, is a really beautiful prayer for this country, i.e., the U.S.A. They don’t just say this for the Jews in America.

    I’ve got a lot Jewish acquaintances (still living, some not) who paid the highest price in this country’s armed forces, one of my best childhood friends has his name posted on that Wall in D.C., along with about 59,000 other of this country’s best; they don’t all have Jewish sounding names – I really don’t think some of them were Jewish in fact. I know Jewish guys who fought in Korea. My brother-in-law (a Jew) left his wife and 3 kids to fight the in ’91 Gulf War (the one sanctioned by the U.N.), which should make you a little less offended by that fact. And I have dead relatives who have Stars of David planted above them, next to their fellow patriots, who have Crosses planted above them.

    You think I’m getting off the point? I think not. You claim Jews only care about their own – chauvinists. I see them as belonging on a spectrum of that attitude shared by all religions and tribes. Their’s might be a little more noticeable only because of a thousand years of persecution in their Diaspora. And although they’re a democracy with Arab MPs, I haven’t noticed any Jewish MPs in any other Mideastern country. Just an anomaly, I guess.

    Now you have your Christians, who, at least the ones I know in America, are really nice, kind, and friendly folks. Yet, there’s always that one little sticking point. You can be the nicest guy and best of friends with them, but they always feel a sincere sadness about your post-mortem future; cause you’re just not going to get where you need to be, if you don’t accept Jesus, while you’re still here. But you know what? They don’t hurt you, or hate you if you don’t, they’ll still be your sweetest and best friend, which I think puts them at the very positive end of this spectrum.

    Further along this spectrum you’ll find reform and conservative Jews, who also care about, and help their neighbors, volunteer in Christian charities, and as one would expect, are welcomed and sincerely thanked by their Christian volunteer cohorts.

    Further along, you’ve got your orthodox Jews, who are pretty exclusive, but they consider conservative and reform members of their tribe non-believers every bit as much as non-Jews. One thing though is true about all these Jews, they don’t actively pray for someone else’s death or misfortune. They have a high respect in fact, for non-Jews who follow the 7 Noahide laws – your basic universal laws of civilize humanity – don’t kill, don’t steal, don’t be promiscuous, etc. In ancient Israel, before the Diaspora, such non-Jewish folks were treated with hospitality and came under the same legal protections as the Jews (sort of similar to current day Arab Israeli citizens, MPs, etc.)

    Finally at the other end of the spectrum, and though it may not be true of all Muslims, but their Quran mentions this in several places: these folks not only don’t pray for non-Muslims, but are vociferously offended by anyone who doesn’t accept Allah, and Sharia. Some go beyond ill-wishes, as we all know.

    So, why have you singled out these innocent, funny-looking Jewish Rabbis, who, other then minding their own business, are really doing something very similar and putting themselves in the same public dilemma as you and your epidemiologist colleagues are?

    I just don’t get that. Can you help me with that one? Please?

  22. #22 revere
    August 16, 2009

    bigbruther: I don’t know about an earful, but you will get an honest response to a serious question.

    We have done this kind of thing every Sunday for years. Most often the targets are pentecostals or fundamentalist Christians, not fundamentalist Jews. Since I am a Jew, I try to be evenhanded about my ridicule. There is a larger strategy, however. The idea of the Sermonettes is frankly subversive. I don’t think there is anything much more subversive of religion than comparative religion. The flip side of the coin that all religions are alike in some ways (and that was indeed the burden of the post itself) is that there is no likelihood that belief in the different versions of the Truth are anything but an accident of birth.

    If it seems I do not have respect or patience for religion that would be correct. It is a very destructive kind of tribalism that we common inhabitants of the earth cannot afford in this age of tight interconnection. If it appeared I took the opportunity in the comments to take a swipe at the nationalism of a middle eastern theocracy, that would also be correct. Israel is a democracy, but so is Gaza and so is Iran. They don’t get any points from me for their own tribalisms and destructive policies because of that.

    I am much more tolerant of Francis Collins because I don’t think his personal beliefs will be getting in my face (given his record), unlike the beliefs of most religions. These religious nutcases in Israel affect Israeli policy in important ways (because of the parliamentary form of government) and in that way affect the lives of many people. I have no tolerance for them or for that. They are not just private beliefs or cultural variations when that happens. Cultural differences are not all created equal (genital mutilation or stoning to death or electrocuting people, for example). So I don’t show toleration to them.

    And I have no patience for this, either, although in reality I don’t think it is much different in its core from the non fundamentalist nonsense that basically does the same thing but without being cultural outliers. But I said that pretty clearly, I believe.

  23. #23 Paul
    August 16, 2009

    bigbruther: Looks like I owe you five smackeroos. Probably cause revere’s on vaction and is still successfully fighting his blog addiction.

    Remember revere, the 12-step program; one day at a time. Oh wait, hold it. That one won’t work. Has G-d in its rather successful system.

    Which makes me think, it won’t be that much longer before he falls off the wagon and “Heeel be baaack!’

  24. #24 revere
    August 16, 2009

    Paul: Well you illustrated my point nicely. Thank you.

  25. #25 Paul
    August 16, 2009

    Woaah! Hold on there bigbruther! I don’t know how he did that trick, but my last post appeared right after my first post. And I *DID* refresh the page before checking. That’s why “believed” it was *I* who owed *YOU* the money. Uh-uh!

    Seeing is believing (a key belief of aetheists everywhere).

    So, it *appears* it’s you, who owes ME the 5 bucks! Hah! Pay up brother!

  26. #26 Paul
    August 16, 2009

    Revere: “Well you illustrated my point nicely.”

    What the hell does that mean…sounds like an intellectual cop-out to me.

    Next to taking their balls home when they disagree about the game, is the second childhood retreat: blurt out some obscurity about “see, I was right after all”

    Exactly what do you mean by that all too cryptic statement? Am I supposed to think you’re saying something much more than what you appear to be saying to my long and many-pointed post?

    Maybe you’re sending me some kind of terse Kabalistic code-speak. Right? Otherwise, I’d be sadly disappointed with such a pathetic response.

    But wait a minute – I get it! That was just the title of the more expansive, detailed, meaty and relevant follow-up you’re about to post, where you adequately address at least one of my many points. Right? Sort of like a teaser lede headline. Get all of our interest up. That’s it!

    OK, I’ll be patient. I’m sure it’ll be a zinger.

    I mean really … Teach, help me out a little, will ya? That can’t really be your entire Talmudic Repsonsa? It isn’t, is it??

  27. #27 Pierce R. Butler
    August 16, 2009

    bigbruther @ # 20: Mocking orthodox Jews is unbecoming …

    Izzatso? Why? Do other groups of the howlingly superstitious merit similar exalted status? Which, and why or why not?

    Paul @ # 21: … here are these rabbis, praying their hearts out that this flu doesn’t kill lots of their countrymen …

    Better than that (fwiw), praying porcine influenza doesn’t kill lots of “people”, rather than calling for a Passover 2.0 miracle to ethnically cleanse one sub-population while leaving another unscathed. They have earned a point for good intentions that way.

    So, of course, have the Harmonic Convergence celebrants dancing for world peace and the Transcendental Meditationists™ TMing in sync to lower the crime rates in their home cities. It would be quite uncouth to scoff at such saintly benevolence, would it not?

    … if the pandemic is a disaster in Israel, everyone’s going to accuse the poor rabbis of not praying hard enough.

    Especially revere ‘n’ Revere, closely followed by the full sciblogs.com community/horde.

    Do you actually think this point, even if true, reduces the absurdity of this story, or the justifications for mockery?!?

    … at the other end of the spectrum, and though it may not be true of all Muslims, but …

    You left out the part about how some of your best friends are Palestinians, and boy they sure can dance – but that would’ve worked against the subtle ominousness which otherwise builds so carefully in your antepenultimate ‘graf, wouldn’t it?

    Some go beyond ill-wishes…

    revere likes to invoke comparative religion as a factor favoring enlightenment. Others of us are crude enough to point to comparative casualty counts as well.

    Just what were those figures from the last Gaza episode again? What about the Lebanon adventure before that?

  28. #28 Paul
    August 16, 2009

    On a more serious note. revere, did you actually mean to say that Gaza and Iran were democracies??

    Gaza’s stillborn attempt at democracy was appropriated by Hamas (yeh, the terrorists, or do you argue with that fact as well?) They even murdered their erstwhile partners in their newly elected coalition government – members of Fatah. You won’t find any Fatah MPs in Gaza.

    Did you really call Iran a democracy? Like Stalin, Chavez, et. al., the theocratic (your description of the Isreali democracy) leaders of Iran do believe in Democracy. Each man gets one vote..one time. They don’t shoot, imprison and torture their own citizens protesting, when they’ve just realize they participated in an election that’s been coopted by the candidate who was already chosen, by the chosen ones (the mullahs) to be leader for life – that is in real democracies. Take a breath, will ya?

  29. #29 revere
    August 16, 2009

    Paul: Both had democratically elected governments. That’s a fact. The added fact that neither group of leaders is worth a damn (nor is Bibi and the crooks he brought into the Israeli government) doesn’t mean it isn’t so. Chavez was democratically elected twice. You may not like the vote, but he was elected. Stalin was not.

  30. #30 Paul
    August 16, 2009

    I must admit, Pierce, some of your abbreviations and abbreviated talking-points leave me clueless about all you were trying to convey about my post.

    I did pick out a few things, from all the background noise, which I can address: You mention something about figures from the last Gaza episode. I figure your talking about Palestinian deaths as a result of the Israeli army (finally) responding to the interminable rockets being fired into Israel at indiscriminate, though consistently civilian targets. Folks lived their lives in bomb shelters for a couple months while the clueless and corrupt Olmert dithered. And those Palestinians civilians were killed by Israeli fire because the cowardly rocket blasters were using their own folks as human shields, behind whom they both fired their rockets and then hid from belated, though justified, Israeli in-kind response.

    And no, I have no Palestinian friends, nor would I want any, considering their universal wish to push Israel into the sea. Funny how even after Prime Minister Barak offered Arafat 90% of what Arafat claimed to want, the one thing the Palestinians have a terminal problem with, is acknowledging the existence of the State of Israel. Hard to make peace with folks like that.

    I’m not sure to what, exactly you’re referring when you ask such a short and meaningless question about “…the Lebanon adventure before that.” Are you trying to make the point that the Lebanese almost succeeded in ousting their Syrian overlords, after the latter orchestrated the assassination of Lebananon’s popular leader, Harawi?

    I just can’t make out the meaning or point of your “How about…” question. It seems you’re trying to make some point in opposition to whatever it is you disagreed with in my post. But for the life of me, your question remains meaningless. Would you care to add some factual substance to your (I suppose) challenging rhetorical question? Usually rhetorical questions, are loaded questions, meant to emphasize a point or opinion. They don’t leave those questioned scratching their heads about what was just asked.

    Quite frankly, Pierce, I think you may have been dwelling in some bomb shelter, as it seems you haven’t had any access to newspapers in the not that distant past.

  31. #31 Paul
    August 16, 2009

    revere! Gaza! Iran! And now, Chavez??!!

    I swear, you and I must be living on different planets. And I have first dibs on naming the planet on which I live, “Earth.”

    How does one argue with such a distorted perception of well known current events.

    I’ll (with relief) assure myself of one thing. *Thankfully,* your scientific observations and perceptions, in no way, strike me as distorted. So I guess all is well, after all. (Would hate to have you in some politically significant position, however. Then, you and I would have a *real* problem).

  32. #32 Sojourner
    August 17, 2009

    I have lived in Israel for the past 16 years and got a good laugh out of the Rabbi story. I do,however, agree with bigbruther about Revere’s tone. And I did think at least
    on a site whose main subject is not politics or the Middle
    East I would not have to contend with the over-emphasis on
    Israel and the Middle East which too often goes along with misunderstanding of a complex situation. And sometimes more
    than a tad of self-righteousness. For the record, I am opposed to many Israeli policies and appalled by the current government. However, Israeli democracy is not comparable to Iran or Gaza. Despite some religous influence, Israel is not a theocracy and has a free press.
    Bibi himself visited the gay commmunity center where a
    terrible shooting occured 2 weeks ago and defended the rights of gays. As a woman, I would sure rather live in
    Israel than either Iran or Gaza!

  33. #33 elvina
    August 17, 2009

    How superstitious people they are! Really its very sad to know about their backward rituals.

  34. #34 PAUL
    August 17, 2009

    Hey elvina; if the only source of your rather deprecating remark on a religion that is 5,000 years old, is based upon a video that derides a planefull of men who take their relationship with their G-d pretty seriously, and express your supercilious “sadness” as a definitive judgment on the backwardness of their rituals, you sadness is misdirected.

    You should be much sadder, not about your lack of knowledge displayed by your confident characterization of a whole people, derived solely from revere’s emotionally driven sophomoric ridicule, but by your oblivious demonstration of your ignorance. Lack of knowledge about any subject is nothing to be ashamed of; but confidently holding forth based on that lack of knowledge (you imply your conclusion derives solely from what you have just seen on this blog) is a classic display of true ignorance – which is a sad thing to see in someone who believes they’re intelligent enough to express such inanity in a public forum.

    The other possibility is that you didn’t derive your sad disappointment in this backward people, based solely upon revere’s emotional regression, but rather you have some well-developed, though obviously just as ill-founded biases/hatreds/distastes that you brought with you to this blog, and then disingenuously (dishonesty might be a more familiar word to someone as well-read as you) presented it as a fresh and emotionally laden observation.

    Tell me, do you feel the same sadness about other civilizations/religions/belief systems that you’re just as unfamiliar with? You’d make a lousy anthropologist. Which brings me to wonder just what kind of academic background you do have.

    I think you’ve demonstrated that you need to devote a little more time to reading, or maybe broaden the types of literature to which you apparently restrict yourself – I shun to venture a guess about that genre; or maybe you don’t really do that much reading at all. It’s the only conclusion one can draw from such a simple-ass statement as the one you just flatulated.

    Let me recommend one piece of very ancient literature that might give you some corrective insight on the backwardness of the people to whom you refer: Its Hebrew title is Pirkei Avos; Translated: Ethics of Our Fathers. It might not only change your mind about this particular people’s backwardness, but I’ll wager it will even offer you personal insights on civility and how to avoid hurting other people with an evil tongue.

  35. #35 Freidenker
    August 17, 2009

    Minor quibble from your Israeli representative here. The health minister did not issue a legal order forbidding the use of the phrase “Swine Flu”, he only recommended that we call it “Mexico Flu”, which is idiotic as hell. The term “Swine Flu” is being used casually in the Israeli press. Only today I saw it appear in an item about 2 new death cases caused by Swine Flu… In Israel.

    I guess the trumpets didn’t work.

  36. #36 csrster
    August 17, 2009

    “You should be much sadder, not about your lack of knowledge displayed by your confident characterization of a whole people”

    Elvina may, or may not, be antisemitic. It’s hard to tell from just two sentences. However I do not think a small group of Orthodox Rabbis can be classified as “a whole people”. The “whole people” is Am Yisrael, and amongst Jews as a whole, I suspect the majority would find these particular rabbis pretty ridiculous.

    Now for those who can’t get enough, here is “Jews On A Plane II”: http://jewishtelegraph.co.uk/images/jet2mob/jet2telaviv.avi

  37. #37 revere
    August 17, 2009

    Sojourner: I’ll note again for those who have just come to this site recently, our treatment of religious fundamentalists in Israel is no different in tone or character than our treatment of their wacko cousins in the US or elsewhere. To verify this, you can check out our weekly Sermonettes that go back years on this site and its predecessor over on blogger.com. Yes, we have a problem with religion. We have discussed it many times, most recently here.

    I would rather live in Israel than Gaza or Iran, too (I am a Jew). But the point was all three have elections. The fact that Israel is a democracy doesn’t excuse anything any more than the fact that Gaza and Iran, are too.

    Paul, you have no grasp of current events. I wonder if you even read the newspaper sometimes, but all of the leaders of those countries are elected leaders. All were initially elected in free and fair elections (the subsequent election has been tainted in the case of Iran). The fact that the elections are imperfect by US standards is not relevant. By standards of 2008, many US elections would be considered invalid (especially the ones before the 14th amendment or women’s suffrage) but we have still been a democratic country from the outset. The fact that you condone torture and atrocities in the name of patriotism (for other readers, this refers to Paul’s comments in a previous post ) is enough for me to say you and I have little in common regarding morality.

    csrster: I agree the Rabbis don’t represent all Jews. But I do believe they represent most organized religions. The post was really about the fact that while they look ridiculous, what they were doing wasn’t much different than what people in nice suits do behind lecterns all the time in the US and elsewhere in churches, synogogues and mosques.

  38. #38 Paul
    August 17, 2009

    csrster: Can you help me out with that video. I really couldn’t understand a word the captain with the Brit accent said over the intercom, but the amateur videograph was a little scary. They were all wearing emergency drop-down oxygen masks. If you could decipher anymore from that video I’d appreciate it.

    revere, If I have no grasp of current events, how is it that my posts are filled with specific references – names and dates that go along with my posts, and as is usual for Lefties, yours (same as your fellow traveler, Pierce Butler’s) only speak in disparaging, but non-specific allusions to your interpretation of current events, which are always anti-American.

    When I stated that a country defending itself should impose no limits on what degree of ferocity and what measures they needed to win a victory (in the context of our having used nuclear bombs to end a war, which otherwise, would have resulted in far more GI and Japanese civilian deaths if accomplished by conventional invasion of imperial Japan) you, of course, jumped to torture, “Good Germans ” (code for Nazis, not contemporary Germans), etc., in an attempt to discredit my position.

    I thought I’d called you on your argument of reductio ad incommodum, and said as gently as I could, that such a transparent and desperate debating technique did not become you. It apparently made no more impression on your blinkered political outlook, than anything else you witness occurring in current events.

    And to quote my hero, President Reagan, whom I consider the greatest president of the United States since Lincoln, who once said in one of his pre-election debates, “There you go again,” you again resort to the very same technique you used in that post, to which you refer.

    To “Torture,” you’ve now added “atrocities” to your extreme caricatures of my unapologetic position on defense of our country.

    You still don’t get it. Using these extreme accusatory mischaracterizations of valid points of view, are truly risible. I’d have another go at trying to educate you about this embarrassingly ineffective technique to which you and other Lefties resort, but I can see it’s hopeless.

    It is with sincere (as well as feigned) sadness (Hello Elvina!) that I must resign myself to the irreparable mental effects remaining in some poor folks – victims of the 60’s leftist pandemic of anti-Americanism – symptoms of permanent neurological damage so severe they make Guillian-Barre syndrome seem a mere URI.

    I sadly must throw up my hands; sometimes, bad things happen to good people.

  39. #39 revere
    August 17, 2009

    Paul: It’s been clear all along your target was the political Left. I’m glad you have a hero, even if some of us think he was a selfish jerk (and one reason we don’t have a decent health care system). You are now quick to qualify your former unqualified statements about what is permitted or not. Still, on you reasoning, we can look forward to Israel using nuclear weapons soon. But please, feel free to pray for my soul to your God. It’ll keep you occupied.

  40. #40 Pierce R. Butler
    August 17, 2009

    Somebody should someday do a comparative study of clinging to mythology & selective perception as seen in creationists, truthers, anti-vaxers, and hard-core Zionists. It would be noted that the first three groups named do not tend by definition towards crude racism.

  41. #41 pft
    August 18, 2009

    I have no problem with any religion so long as they do not attempt to force their views on me. Fundamentalists tend to be the most intolerant and dangerous among the religous so I stay way from folks of that nature

    That said, from my observations it appears there is a sect of scientists, a minority of whom are politically motivated, who tend toward an atheistic fundamentalism and use naturalism as a religous platform, under the guise of science. Scientists are the high priests of this religion pretending to be science and free of political motivation.

    Their faith is in atheism and nature, and they use the natural sciences whose ignorance of nature and the universe is surpassed only by religous fundamentalists beliefs in their God and creation. Their consensus tend to be supported by hypothesis which can not be tested, measurements with large uncertainties, and wild assumptions to eliminate what they do not understand from their mathematical models which provide results in accordance with the “consensus” of the high priests. Not to say the natural sciences have no value, just that they have been inlfuenced.

    Those inclined to follow this religion, most of whom are not scientifically inclined, can be persuaded to sacrifice when told by the high priests, and the governments who pay their salaries or fund their work, that natures goddess, Gaia, demands they stop sinning by using so much energy and reduce their excessive living standards (ie pay more for less), or the planet will burn and become a Hell on Earth.

    For most of human history, science and religion have always worked together as partners. Today the religous institutions are weakened and science now relies on government funding instead of those of the religions which happened to rule over the state, or serve as the governments partner. Government has now replaced religion as the corrupting influence on science. Religion is useful to control the population, and so a secular religion pretending to be science is useful for the government to control the secular non-believers.

    This so called conflict between religion and science is great theater, but it deflects from the real issue of corruptive influence on science by corporate – government interests. Eisenhower warned about this in his final speech when he also warned about the MIC.

  42. #42 mediajackal
    August 18, 2009


    I’d be extremely interested in your research into converting outdoor hog farms into CAFOs. Revere, is it permissible for me to post my work e-mail address here, so that I may contact Phillip?

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