The Plastic Whale

“The Plastic Whale” refers to a Cuvier beaked whale that surfaced near Bergen, Norway, and then died.  When it was opened up it was found to have 30 plastic bags of all kinds and many other pieces of micro-plastic filling its stomach and blocking its intestines.   This is not unique, such findings have been made in other countries where whales are being caught and where they live, including Japan and the UK.

A survey of beaches in places as far apart as the far north of Norway and tiny islands in the center of the Pacific Ocean show enormous amounts of plastic being washed up on shore, so much so that it seems impossible to clean them.  Literally tons of plastic, bags, sheets, lines, buckets, toothbrushes, computer parts, every possible kind of plastic is ending up in the sea, and because it is indestructible it is remaining for many, many years.  A recent survey was made of Henderson Island, an uninhabited atoll of the Pitcairn group of islands, and the astounding finding was that it had 17 tons of plastic on its beaches consisting of 38 million pieces of plastic!

And this doesn’t include the pieces of micro-plastic that are ground down by the effect of the sea and waves and are as small as the grains of sand.  All such plastic collects in the bodies of sea creatures, fish, crustaceans, sharks, dolphins and whales, and they are unable to digest/excrete them and it leads to their death.  What is astounding it that whales that spend only a small part of their time at the surface of the ocean breathing have so much plastic in them that they must have ingested in the depths of the ocean.

Who is responsible for this terrible state of affairs?  Of course, the public that uses plastic for so many things, but the consumers can’t take all of the blame.  Those who dispose of trash in the sea and the oceans are chiefly responsible for this devastating infestation. Also, the manufacturers of plastic packaging materials.  They must switch to new kinds of materials that can be degraded by sea and water.  People will be prepared to pay a little more for their goods if they know the packaging will not be polluting the planet and its oceans and killing its wild-life for generations to come.

Generally, I am not considered to be a liberal.  I remember being amused years ago by the bumper sticker “Save the gay whales.”  But this is serious, something must be done! Public pressure in Norway has caused the Government to agree that the Environment Ministry will take responsibility for cleaning the beaches and will change its policies regarding the use of plastic.  Also, they will bring a suitable proposal to the UN, because it really is an international problem.   A whale constructed from plastic found inside whales will be touring the UK.  Let’s try to stop killing the whales.  Let’s stop dumping plastic into the sea, let’s reduce the amount of plastic we throw in the trash.  It can be done.

A Pox on Both Their Houses

I am, of course, against the KKK, the white supremacists, and especially the neo-Nazis. But, I am not bothered by the statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee remaining in the square in Charlottesville, Va.  He was an excellent general, an important historical figure in the history of the United States, and he came from Virginia.  He was offered to be the Commander-in-Chief of the US Federal army (yes, of the North), but he turned it down to become the C-in-C of the Confederate Army of Virginia.  Like all Southerners of his time he supported slavery.  But, as Pres. Trump noted in his press conference today, so did George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.  They were both slave owners.  As he asked “where will it stop, if we take down the statues of all Confederate generals, shall we also take down the statues of all slave owners, including Washington and Jefferson?”  I think not!

I am also, of course, against the organized militant hard left activists, known as the “antifa” who dressed in combat gear (black body protectors and helmets) came to the rally in Charlottesville looking for trouble.  But, the biased liberal-left media failed to report their activities.  Here again I agree with Pres. Trump, extremists on both sides who came to foment violence and destruction must both be condemned.  It is ridiculous for any reporter to take the high moral ground and disparage Pres. Trump for criticizing both sides, it does not mean that he “equates” them.  They both deserve to be condemned. And Pres. Trump is right again when he says that there were many protesters who came to demonstrate peacefully against the removal of the statue of Robert E. Lee.

The US will be the poorer if the statues of all early historical figures whose politics and views are not consistent with those of the left and the Black population today are unilaterally removed.  This is politically correct racial politics at its worst.  I protest this trend, to quote William Shakespeare in “Romeo and Juliet” I say “a pox on both their houses.”

 

Black Athletes Matter

Watching the London Games of the IAAF (Intl. Association of Athletics Federation) one could not escape the fact that Black runners of West African (Caribbean and US) origin dominate in sprints and East Africans (Kenyan and Ethiopian) in long distance running. It was astounding and far more than statistically significant when all 12 of the three winning relay teams showed up to collect their medals and they were all black.  This included the men and women’s 4×100 m and 4×400 m relays.  That’s a total of 48 athletes, although 4 of them were Japanese, 4 Polish  and one or two of the GBR team were white (or whitish).

There are two factors, 1. Black runners of West African origin are the fastest in the world and this includes especially Jamaica, although they were not as dominant at these games. This was partly because Usain Bolt in his last appearance had two unexpected losses, he came second in the 100 m race winning the silver medal and he fouled out of the 100 m relay because he sustained a muscle cramp and stopped half-way.  His retirement is timely.  This also happened to one of the Jamaican women in the 100 m relay.  2. In countries with mixed populations, such as the US and Britain, there is a statistically larger proportion of Blacks running than represented in the total population.  All the 4 US relay teams were all Black. This was also true of such countries as Netherlands, Canada (!) and Germany.  The long distance runner for GBR Mohamed Farah, also in his last appearance, won the 10,000 m but came second in the 5,000 m to the Kenyan Edris.

But, as opposed to this, consider the following.  In the 200 m women’s races there was only one white woman out of 10, Dafne Schippers and she won and she came third in the 100 m.  The USA dominated the medals table, taking 30 medals, way more than any other country.  But, which country came second?  Kenya, with 11 medals, because of all the medals they won in the long distance events.

Now some might conclude from the above that I am a racist.  But, I am not.  I am only repeating the actual results and observable facts.  Why are people afraid to talk about this?  Because it’s not politically correct.  But, if I say that the Blacks are superior athletes in many ways, that is based on actual results.  For a more detailed analysis see the book “Taboo:  why Black athletes are better and why we’re afraid to talk about it” by Jon Entine, that considers why Blacks dominate in American football and basketball.  Black athletes certainly matter!

 

The Reawakening

I have written and just self-published a book on the subject of the Bnei Anousim or descendants of “marranos” entitled “The Reawakening: the Re-emergence of Jews after 500 years of Spanish-Portuguese Catholic Persecution,” which is available on Amazon.com (at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B073MJWJ2R ).

This is not a large book (150 pages), but I believe it is a unique one.  As far as I know it is the first time that a collection of personal stories of individuals who are descendants of Jews who were forcibly converted to Catholicism in Spain or Portugal some 500 years ago have been brought together.  The similarities and differences in their stories makes for fascinating reading.  How they delved back through history using their own family histories, genealogy and DNA analysis is enlightening.

Here is an excerpt:  Astonishingly, there are millions of people in the world today who retain remnants of Jewish traditions after as long as 500 years, but are often completely unaware of their Jewish origins. They are descendants of those Jews who were forced to convert to Christianity mostly during the period 1391-1492 in Spain and during the mass forced-conversion during 1497 in Portugal. They were known as conversos or New Christians or pejoratively as “marranos.” In Hebrew they are known as Anousim (coerced) and their contemporary descendants are known as Bnei Anousim.

Now that democracy and enlightenment have finally come to the Hispanic Catholic world, and with the access to information on the internet and with universal education, many of these Bnei Anousim are coming forward to reclaim their ancestral heritage.  They are motivated by curiosity about their origins and unusual customs passed down through the generations and by a desire to right the wrongs of history when they discover that their ancestors were tortured and died for their beliefs.  Out of the millions (some estimate as many as 20 million) persons of Jewish origin throughout the Hispanic world, this then is the story of some of those who are returning to the Jewish people and/or to Judaism.

I met most of the people profiled in this book (10 out of 13) through my activities with the Inst. for Sefardi and Anousim Studies at Netanya Academic College.  This book has a motive, to bring to the attention of the Jews of the world the fact that there is a growing number of people emerging throughout the Spanish-Portuguese world, from S. America to Goa, from Majorca to New Mexico, who are rediscovering their Jewish roots.  In my opinion this could become a  movement that could be as important as the Soviet Jewry movement was for the future recovery of the Jewish people and for Israel.

The North Korea Imbroglio

The situation with North Korea is coming to a head and the prospects do not look good. Dictator Kim Jong-Un is continuously raising the stakes, first developing a nuclear weapons program after signing an agreement (with Bill Clinton) that he would not do so, then developing and testing ICBM’s to deliver the nuclear weapons.  Finally he has gone one step too far by threatening to fire 4 nuclear tipped ICBM’s at the American territory of Guam in the Pacific, which is largely a US military base.  This has resulted in very strong fiery responses from Pres. Trump and his Secty. of Defense Gen. James Mattis (known affectionately as “Mad-Dog” Mattis).

The big problem is not so much North Korea itself, which the US military could wipe-out in a few weeks without any other interference, but the big problem is China.  Just as South Korea and Japan have been acting basically under the American defense umbrella, so N. Korea has been operating under the Chinese umbrella.  Until now, all previous US Administrations have been content to live under the illusion that China is willing to help ease the situation and prevent Kim Jong-Un from going too far.  That strategy has clearly failed.  Not only has China failed to rein in Kim Jong-Un, but it has also failed to show any intention of helping the US avoid a confrontation.  It is in China’s interests to show that the US is not as powerful as it thinks it is, and in that respect, testing a new President is a time-honored political custom.  But, China voted with Russia in favor of UN Security Council resolution 2371 to sanction N. Korea for its recent ICBM tests that are against international agreements.  So they seem to be giving the nod to American reaction to N. Korea’s provocations.  Whether or not this has anything to do with China’s own provocative actions in militarizing islands in the South China Sea that resulted from Obama’s policy of cowardice masquerading as liberal policy is unclear.

This all looks as if it could light the proverbial match that could lead to WWIII (or is it already IV or V).  If there is such a conflagration between NOK and the US, the two nations that would bear the brunt of the casualties would be not only NOK but also South Korea and Japan, with potentially millions of casualties.  Also, it is unlikely that China would allow NOK to be defeated and have US troops on its border, so China may find the US reaction to be a casus belli for them.  It all stinks of Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s assassination in Sarajevo and Hitler’s march into the Sudeten Land.

Further, Pres. Trump is not Obama.  By now Obama would have gone on TV and given an articulate speech explaining why for a dozen reasons the US will step back and allow Kim Jong-Un to do whatever he wants.   Trump hopefully will not do that.  This is brinksmanship and it cannot be seen that the US backs down in the face of a petty tyrant like Kim Jong-Un.  If it does then every bully in the world, including Putin, Assad and Maduro will take their chances.   So we are headed for a classic “who blinks first” situation.  Let’s hope its the petty dictator who prefers his western luxuries to really facing the onslaught of US weapons.

 

An Arab Israeli Zionist

Weds night I went to AACI Netanya to hear Richard Corman of the pro-Israel organization StandWithUs introduce Yahya Mohammed, an Israeli Arab from Umm al-Fahm, who has become a strong supporter of Israel and a Zionist.

Yahya described how he was brought up in Umm al-Fahm to hate Jews and Israel.  But, he never met Jewish Israelis and had no conception of who they were.  After he left school he registered for a pre-Army program to learn how to be a mechanic that was supported by the IDF in his town, even though he was not required to serve in the IDF. He noticed on the wall there was a map of the world, with Palestine written in place of Israel.  So he complained to the management, he said that since they live in Israel and since the IDF is paying for their education, they should at least show a correct map.  The map was taken down, but after that he got threats, including death threats.  He was surprised at the extent of the threats over such a small incident.  Then he got a call telling him he better go to the police.  So he went to the Israeli police and they took him out of the town, and he made a deal with the local Imam, he would stay away for 2 years and his family would not be in danger.

He found a  job in Tel Aviv, and although very apprehensive, he discovered that people were friendly to him and he had no problems.  One day he was at a bus stop and a Chabad person came up to him, and he was afraid of religious Jews, but when the man told him he should be using tefillin and he told him he was an Arab, the Chabad guy said “doesn’t matter, as long as you are a good person.”  That really shocked him, because he had been brought up to fear religious Jews.

He began reading widely and decided that the Zionists were right, the Jews should be here.  He made contact with StandWithUs who needed someone who spoke/wrote Arabic, and became a volunteer, then a member of their staff.  He now goes around the world speaking at meetings against BDS and in favor of Israel and described some of his experiences.  He now lives in Jerusalem and has volunteered to join the IDF.

He was personable and answered questions readily.  I put it to him that there is not an Israel-Palestine problem, but rather a Palestinian problem, since Israel is quite strong and prosperous, but the Palestinians are split and very poor.  He partially agreed, but pointed out that the Palestinian Arabs, including Israeli Arabs, are very ignorant, uninformed and controlled by a small minority of extremists.  They simply can’t break out of their own enforced culture.

Netanyahu’s legal problems

All leaders in the Western world are subject to continuous invasive scrutiny by the press, especially if they are right-wing, since the media is predominately liberal.  This is true of Pres. Trump in the US,  PM Theresa May in the UK and PM Netanyahu in Israel.  In Netanyahu’s case the investigators have come up with several potential cases that have been headlined ad nauseam for months.  Here is a list of the potential cases:

  1. The Submarine Affair:  This involves the sale to Israel by Germany of several submarines, but the lawyer David Shimron, who represented the Israeli buyer, is now known to have received a large kick-back from the German company Thyssen-Krupp.  It also turns out that the lawyer is also Netanyahu’s personal lawyer, thus throwing suspicion on him, although until now he has not been implicated in any wrongdoing.
  2. Case 1000, which involves Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan, who was supposedly asked to purchase luxury items for Netanyahu and his wife.  In this case the amount of goods involved amounts to several thousand dollars.
  3. Case 2000, in which Netanyahu is accused of concocting a deal with Arnon Mozes, the publisher of the mass-circulation daily Yediot Ahronot, to ensure positive  reporting about himself.
  4. Bribery and corruption: There was another case involving payments by American Friends of Likud that benefited Netanyahu.  His Chief Adviser at that time Ari Harow, who has been implicated in several suspected cases of bribery and corruption, has been reported recently to have turned State’s witness.  Although this must be presumably against his former boss, Harow has gone public to deny that he would give any incriminating evidence against Bibi.

The current situation is producing rumor and innuendo, much like in the US against Pres. Trump.  Some rivals in Likud are already preparing themselves to challenge Bibi. But, the extent of the evidence against the PM and the lack of seriousness of some of the supposed charges leave the situation so far up in the air.  On the other hand, it was a similar situation of several seemingly not so serious cases that ruined the career of former PM Olmert, who became the first Israeli PM to go to jail. Notably there is also a case pending against Sara Netanyahu for petty use of government services for private purposes.  All this smacks of political character assassination.