Time to End Minhal Ezrachi and COGAT

Beyond the Cusp

Both Minhal Ezrachi (Civil Administration) and COGAT (Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories) are obsolete, counterproductive, anti-Israeli, anti-Zionist and well beyond their use-by-date. They both were established during the heady and oft wrong-headed days after the Six Day War designed to administrate over the formerly Jordanian occupied lands, illegal under every last line of applicable International Law and solely recognized by Pakistan and Britain, with the potential purpose to permit their ready status to be traded with Jordan in exchange for a peace treaty. Well, Israel has her peace treaty and Jordan renounced their false claims thus the reverting of these lands of Judea and Samaria back to their rightful owner under applicable International Law, Israel. That should have been the end of the story and Israel should have annexed these lands legally registering the residents as resident alien citizens granting them limited political rights within the areas they…

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California Dreaming

Late on a Friday morning this summer, I sat down at a wobbly two-person table outside Sqirl, a tiny counter-service restaurant on the edges of Silver Lake, one of Los Angeles’s hipper neighborhoods. My friend and I attempted to blend in with the rest of the clientele — local screenwriters and hot dads who somehow have the time to laze about during the day and graze on frittatas and malva pudding cake — all of us an incongruous tableau on a remarkably average strip of Virgil Avenue, which Sqirl shares with Twig & Twine floral arrangers, Fiestecita Party Supply, Marshall Security Training Academy, and a cash-only Chinese restaurant called Wah’s Golden Hen.

As our table filled up with bowls of spring onion hash and crispy rice salad and glasses of rhubarb lemonade, we looked at the spread with a sense of giddy awe. Everything was Technicolor, an overwhelming bounty. Before breaking into a gargantuan slice of ricotta-and-jam-topped toast, I snapped a photo of our table on the sidewalk, sun-dappled and brimming with vegetable things, and posted the image to Instagram. After we’d finished our meal and left, I saw that another friend — who lives a few blocks from me in Brooklyn — had left a comment: “I’m on my way there right now!”

My trip to Los Angeles this summer was my second in a year, but last time I had mostly eaten burritos and potato chips. This trip would be different, decidedly more food-focused; I almost expected eating at Sqirl to be a little like seeing the Pacific Ocean for the first time. For a certain stripe of out-of-town visitor (me), a meal there has come to symbolize everything that defines the most stereotypically bourgeois notion of a contemporary Los Angeles lifestyle right now: photogenic scenery, friendly vibes, food that is both virtuous and delicious. We roll our eyes, then thirst for it anyway.

I still remember the first time I saw that photo in Bon Appétit of a line of beautiful people patiently waiting outside a low-lying, barely marked building, a tree blooming out front. It was a spoon-fed fantasy — that you, too, could be one of the good-looking regulars — and I wanted all of it.

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Palestinians: Jibril Rajoub and the “Merry Christmas Group”

A senior Palestinian official has enraged Palestinian Christians by referring to them as the “Merry Christmas Group” and accusing them of supporting the Islamist movement, Hamas. Jibril Rajoub, chairman of the Palestinian Football Association and a top Fatah official who previously served as commander of the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) notorious Preventive Security Force in the West Bank, made the offensive remarks during a recent interview with an Egyptian television station.

Referring to the Palestinian local elections, which were supposed to be held on October 8 but were suspended due to the continued power struggle between Fatah and Hamas, Rajoub said in the interview:

“Even some of our brothers, the ‘Merry Christmas Group,’ voted for Hamas [in the 2006 Palestinian parliamentary election]. Today, no one will vote for Hamas. What has Hamas given them? Hamas has brought nothing but destruction.”

The interview was later broadcast on the PA’s official Palestine TV — a move that has been interpreted as an endorsement of the attack on Palestinian Christians. Critics argued that Palestine TV should have at least removed the parts where Rajoub hurls insults and accusations against the Christians.

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Brandeis University Hosts Historic Lenny Bruce Conference

A comedian as transgressive as Lenny Bruce would may very well not be welcomed on college campuses, were he alive today. But his spirit, and his unique and uninhibited brand of comedy, was welcomed to Brandeis University last week for a two-day conference dedicated to his legacy, “Comedy and the Constitution: The Legacy of Lenny Bruce.”

Brandeis is in many ways, a natural place for a Lenny Bruce conference. It’s a Jewish-sponsored university, named for a First Amendment stalwart, which in recent years has been a frequent battleground for fights over political correctness. The first-of-its-kind conference doubled as the formal opening of an exhibition of Bruce’s papers and personal effects—a deal made possible in 2014 by a gift from the Hugh M. Hefner Foundation—coming just a couple of months after the 50th anniversary of the comedian’s death.

Hefner’s daughter, Christie, was on hand to deliver a keynote address, and Bruce’s daughter Kitty Bruce cut the ribbon—two women whose fathers were major cultural figures of mid-century who fought titanic free-speech battles, with very different outcomes. “We need more Lenny Bruces,” Kitty Bruce said. “My father caused some people to become very uncomfortable, because he poked around their core belief systems. My father said: Let me tell you the truth.”

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What Will Replace ISIS?

Before long the same administration that declared the fighting in Iraq over several times will claim victory over ISIS. The timetable for its push against the Islamic State appears to have less do with the victimized Christians and Yazidis who have been prevented from coming here as refugees in favor of Syrian Muslims than with the Clinton presidential campaign. Like Obama’s declarations that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were over, the announcement that ISIS has been defeated will be premature.

It is based on a profound misunderstanding and misreading of Islamic terrorism.

Long before its current string of defeats, ISIS had begun evolving into another Al Qaeda; a multinational alliance of Jihadists scattered around the world. Bombing Mosul isn’t hard, but try bombing Marseille, Brussels or London. There is no doubt that the ability of ISIS to temporarily establish a caliphate allowed it to build a network that could carry out terror attacks from New York to Miami to Nice to Munich. But it would be dangerous to assume that losing Iraq and Syria will stop ISIS.

ISIS doesn’t matter. The idea of ISIS does. And the idea of ISIS is Islamic supremacism.

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