fatwa time?

Jewlicious reader Rochelle wrote the following: “My husband took this picture at the Barnes and Noble Bookstore in Seattle, WA. We thought you might find it humorous!” Thanks for being alert Rochelle – I know that by “humorous” you mean “a grave affront to all those of the Jewish faith and the followers of the Prophet Moses, Shalom be unto him.” I mean if the Muslims can get all riled up by some cartoons and a teddy bear why can’t we express anger, yes, outright anger at this horrible insult? Fiction?? You call our bible fucking fiction?

That’s it Barnes and Noble. I am declaring a fatwa against you. Soon a crew of Jewish ninja accountants will descend upon your store, have a cup of coffee (I mean it’s Seattle – may as well while they’re in town) and then wreak havoc with your accounting. You will verily rue the day you messed with the Jews.

Fiction. Sheesh. Your face is fiction Barnes and Noble!

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About the author

ck

Founder and Publisher of Jewlicious, David Abitbol lives in Jerusalem with his wife, newborn daughter and toddler son. Blogging as "ck" he's been blocked on twitter by the right and the left, so he's doing something right.

100 Comments

  • I’m the husband who took this photo and, just to be clear, they had either recently expanded the section or moved it over by one bookshelf and had merely failed to update the placards. I doubt that there’s anything malicious about it.

  • I’m the husband who took the photo and just to be clear, it looked like they had expanded or moved the section and failed to adjust the placards.

    Either way, we should just burn the place down and claim that we’re victims. Also Ron Paul supporters.

  • Do they have the stones to put the Koran in there?

    If not, someone should fucking call their sorry asses on it.

    And what about the Xian Bible?

    Huh? Huh?

  • Most of the Jewish books at these bookstores revolve around kabbalah, Jewish feminism, and intermarriage.

  • Muffti doesn’t really see the problem. Definition of fiction:

    “A literary work whose content is produced by the imagination and is not necessarily based on fact.”

    Here’s a few questions:

    1) Was the world literally created in 6 days?
    2) Did the sun literally stop for Joshua?
    3) Does God literally have a back and hands that he can pass before Moses?
    4) Is God literally a ‘jealous’ guy?

    If you answered ‘no’ to any of these questions, you may want to think a bit about just how non-fictional the torah is.

    But Muffti agrees to a certain extent: the books there belong there, but certainly many more do as well.

  • And did you know how Jewish feminism came about? During the time of the Industrial Revolution, religious Jewish women couldn’t bear the sight of their children starving to death while their hubbies were studying, so they took up underpaid, physically exhausting labour in factories and thus pathed the way for European feminism in general and women workers’ rights in particular.

  • All the more reason to patronize your local Judaica shop, where the money you would have otherwise given to B&N will instead help support keeping their doors open.

    If you’re in the Oy Bay Area, then definitely check out Bob & Bobs, Alef-Bet, Dayeinu, and Afikomen! πŸ™‚

  • I can’t believe no one’s pointing out the obvious thing here: that the shelf also includes the siddur. If this is fiction, it’s the worst piece of fiction ever written: it’s all praising of God and detailing of sacrifices, with no plot or central characters, and minimal dialogue. Seriously: no one’s optioning that thing. Ever.

  • Esther, a great comment, about the siddur, though I disagree about the dialogue bit, since the siddur being a prayer book is all about Dialogue with Hashem. but for gods sake! its a prayer book! and not a story, so in effect there you have the answer to the whole dilemma. its obviously a prankster, trying to stir up mischief, or some self hating Jew with an agenda, that put those books there.

    I second Ephraims comments about the koran

  • be careful…
    yesterday i was reading the weekly magazine at Lisbon, Portugal, and there is a phenomenon called “Shopdropping”. it consist of leaving things instead of “lifting”, for example, photos of Et on culinary books or putting bibles near stephen king’s series “here’s moshe!!!” or jack’s nicholson movies with “how to make origami with Marijuana.

    lehit dudes!

    cheers from portugal

  • Oh, are we being reasonable now? Damn it! I was all ready to join the squad of Ninja Accountants!

    Does this mean I don’t get a coffee either?

    It is so unfair!

    πŸ™‚

    Gila

  • Muffti’s right; prayers also are fiction (Latin “facere” = “to make”); if you take them for factbooks, you’re on the edge of pre-enlightment religious extremism – which is the case in many countries where the Quran may not be critically studied. Belittling of other faiths? Sorry, but no, don’t even go there. Since the Middle Ages, Jews have repeatedly been accused and persecuted for allegedly having mocked (ritual objects of) other faiths, and the reason why there were popes and bishops (which at that time were not as powerful and influential as these days) that spoke out in favour Jews and accepted refugees to their courts was that it’s a core Jewish belief that any righteous person will receive salvation regardless of religious adherence and therefore such mockery accusations were per se absurd. Had anybody placed a Quran, the Gospels or some Hindu writings there, the majority of you would honour it with a wide grin. Maybe religious devisions should be between atheist / post-enlightment traditional / post-enlightment-observant / pre-enlightment observant / pre-enlightment fanatic.

  • Do fries come with that shake, froylein?…. My guess is that Jewlicious contributors trend conservative (small ‘c’), and are more traditional and observant than relevant US standards of measure. Poor Muffit’s a man on an island, the house apostate. But hell, he has more fun than the rest of us. Carpe diem, especially if it’s all we got, right?

    As for Muffti’s questions: sure, all of those things are true, in the sense that they contain truth or truths even if they are not ‘literally’ true. Muffti employs truth in the sense of correctness, as opposed to other standards or notions of truth. Most religious folks, I suspect, especially the millions (billions?) of believers who aren’t intellectually or tempermentally inclined to Muffti-style scrutiny, find their faith convincingly makes sense of their lives and what they see around them. That’s a stiff test, and one all of us can apply; compared to it, whether the world took seven days to make is beside the point.

  • Tom, religious conservatism and religious academic knowledge are not mutually exclusive – in Europe they are considered a standard combination. If conservatism serves as an excuse for blind adherence, things get critical by any means. There’s a reason why law over here draws a line between officially acknowledged religious bodies (which makes them eligible for getting a share of taxes – ; 8% to 10% of the income tax, depending on one’s federal state – and the right to public funding of educational programmes) and “sects” (not in the Chasidishe sense). I even happened to receive my academic knowledge of Judaism at a Catholic faculty (the only ones that provide for academic training on Judaistics over here as opposed to rabbinical seminaries, which, like priestal seminaries, must make faith a premise) – people there never claimed, “This is our truth, and we expect you to adhere to it.” That wouldn’t have been ‘academic’. The way to go there is to use academic relativization and say, “Jews / Christians / Muslims / Hindus believe that . . . ”

    BTW, I like Muffti.

  • Why is it that religious faith makes you a Conservative? I hate that right wingers have hijacked God in this way. Furthermore, I dare say I have a heck of a lot more fun than muffti. Don’t believe me? Go ahead and ask him. Go on.

    And yes, I will sponsor tea and cookies for Gila if she shows up to work at PWC in a Ninja outfit. This would of course be a violation of our ninja accountants vow of secrecy, but what the hey! You only live once!

    I am so calling Seattle today to see what’s up with what. If I don’t get the answers that I want I look forward to eviscerating their FIFA records. In the name of the Prophet Moses, Shalom be unto him, a curse on those who would sully the word of God!

  • Ephraim & AskRabbiShimmi,

    Here is the contact information to “fucking call their sorry asses on it” regarding your issues:

    Barnes & Noble Inc.
    Executive Vice President of Merchandising
    122 Fifth Ave., 2nd Floor
    New York, NY 10011

    Oyster,
    I can assure you that local Judaica shops do not contribute the U.S. Economy or even the local communities serve the way B & N Corp. can and does. The amount of money my son’s Yeshiva makes from B&N school bookfairs far exceeds the amount they receive from the local Judaica shop and B&N participates in the school scrip program. (Scrip is a term that means substitute money… WARNING: DO NOT get me started on this topic).

    If there were no Barnes & Noble, where would the kids walk to on Shabbos to get away from their parents to read about the outside world? Where would the Kollel men go to look at the Yoga books? I can’t even conceive of how unbearable life in the shtetl would be without Barnes & Noble…Dude you are makin’ me cry.

  • Tom Said:

    As for MufftiÒ€ℒs questions: sure, all of those things are true, in the sense that they contain truth or truths even if they are not Γ’β‚¬ΛœliterallyÒ€ℒ true.

    Sure, but in that sense War and Peace is true even though not literally true. As is Don Quixote. Do you think those aren’t fictions?!?

    Thanks Froylein! Muffti likes you too. And he thinks that ck and Muffti have about equally good times. Depends on when you ask πŸ™‚

  • ck: Hey, at least Seattle’s finally GETTING FIFA records. It’ll be nice to have a real sport in this city finally… heh heh.

  • TM wrote:

    Muffti canÒ€ℒt explain creation any better than a person of faith can explain creationism.

    Yeah, but if Muffti wrote a book about it that he didn’t think was literally true or didn’t think it was a report of fact he wouldn’t get all pissy if it was in the fiction section!

    What exactly do you think needs to be explained about creation? Why or how?

  • Yeah, but if Muffti was confident that the world just came to be and wrote an authoritative philosophical treatise “proving” this premise, he would definitely object to his book being placed in the Fiction section.

    Creation: Why. The “How” is, although many will deny it, dependent upon your approach to science vs. god. You obviously belong to the camp that says “One day, billions of years ago, there was a big bang or similar event and the universe was born.” The opposite camp says, “Maybe 6000 years ago, although many of us believe it was before then, an entity we call God created the universe out of nothingness.” It doesn’t matter which group you follow when it comes to explaining “why” or what came before that first moment when the universe was born.

  • I actually don’t work at PWC; I work at KPMG. For another month. So if I come in to work on my last day in a ninja outfit, does that still count for the coffee and cookies?

  • Is it only Jewish religious books in the Religious fiction section?

    if so its obviously bordering on a hate crime

  • That was Muffti’s whole point: if you answer ‘yes’ to those questions, and obviously many others, then you think the book isn’t to be taken literally and so it seems like fiction! especially if you think the book wasn’t written with the intention of being taken literally. IF Muffti wrote a long boring treatise proving the premise in question, he’d intend it to be a work of non-fiction. If he wrote an allegory that people weren’t supposed to take literally? Fiction. See how it works?

    Muffti thinks that science tells us pretty clearly that there was no ‘before’ the universe was born – attempts to disengage the temporal dimension from the spatial dimension don’t make sense in relativistic physics. And so asking what happened ‘before’ there was a universe is like asking what colour the number 4 is. LIke it or not, that’s an answer. What’s the god squad got to compare by way of viable, verifiable and successful research project?

    Answer: a bunch of fiction.

  • It’s red. If it’s lank and straight, can be light green; narrow, pointed and leaning to the right would be orange. 4 can never be blue.

  • Chutzpah:

    The guy who took the picture says that the section had been rearranged and that the section placards just hadn’t been moved yet. If so, there’s no issue.

    But if one is going to put the Torah in a “Religious Fiction” section, then the Christian Bible, the Koran, and every other piece of religious scripture from any church or sect should be in there as well. If not, there is a problem.

    As a general premise, assuming that the universe has always existed, that the world just sort of happened for no particular reason, or that certain chemicals (where did they come from?) coincidentally combined and somehow became animate (“It’s alive! It’s alive!”) and eventually evolved into humans seems just as silly as assuming that a creative intelligence created the universe in some manner. Trying to piece together how evolution occurred is not the same as assuming “X” (the Big Bang or G-d) as a factor in the equation. People say “Big Bang”, and maybe that is what happened. But what caused the Big Bang and how did whatever it was that exploded come into being? I am not a scientist, but assuming that the matter needed for the Big bang was just sort of hanging around seems just as much a leap of faith as anything else.

  • Ephraim has the guy who took the picture now verified that the placards have finally been put in their right places….. if so you are correct its not an issue. Failing that its a HUGE issue.

    and what placard does Darwins theory come under? evolutionary fiction?

  • Those are good questions, Ephraim, and clearly no one knows the answer. Al Muffti was saying is that it doesn’t seem possible to disentangle space and time in a way that is required to ask those deep questions about what happened before time etc. But muffti si at the end of his rope on knowledge about space, time and spacetime. any physicists that can help out?

  • I’m not a physicist, but I know people get pretty frustrated with their limited possibilities of manipulating the four dimensions humans can perceive. As we grow older, and stop growing taller, we grow wider, and time passes faster and faster. On that notion, you may all draw your own links to the uplifting or whatnot effects of religious faith.

  • If no one knows the answer, then saying “Big Bang” or “G-d” doesn’t seem to make much difference to me, Muffti. I believe in evolution, at least insofar as it can be scientifically demonstrated. I am also quite willing (since I am an apikorus) to accept the proposition that perhaps G-d created life and matter preprogrammed to evlove in precisely the way that it has. I am not a fundamentalist, so I have never felt any particular need to believe in a literal 6-day creation, especially since the sun wasn’t created until the 4th “day”. How were the days counted before the sun was created? Somehow, the idea that the Torah describes a general process but might be fuzzy on the details doesn’t bother me.

    Personally, I believe that people who object to the idea of G-d are objecting primarily to the idea of an absolute standard of morality imposed by what, in their minds, amounts essentially to a Universal Superego going around telling their Ids what they can and cannot do. Everybody wants to grow up and get out of the house so they can get away from their parents’ nagging.

  • Muffti’s distinction between fiction and non-fiction seems too rigid. If I were to write a biography of someone no longer living, I’d look at documentary sources, interview friends and associates, read other third-person accounts. I’d classify my own results as non-fiction; that doesn’t mean I’d assert my work as ‘literally’ true. ‘Literally’ suggests content the truth of which must be reflexively deferred to. I wouldn’t make such a claim for my biography.

    NT accounts of Jesus fall into this category. They were written after the fact, manifestly contain hearsay (i.e., information purporting to be true but not based on personal knowledge), and not infrequently contradict each other. (Matthew, for example, is the great exagerator: instead of scores of people at Jesus’s appearances, we get thousands, etc.)

    So the NT, like, I’d venture, the reat of the Bible, is a profoundly human enterprise, not one dropped from the sky in a capsule but the flawed effort of human beings to relate the unfathomable, the incomprehensible. These texts are neither ‘literally’ infallible nor wholly fictive works of imagination, much as Muffti insists on one designation or the other. If either description were entirely true, faith would be a much easier undertaking.

  • To Ephraim: You cant insult Islam and the Quran for Burnes and Noble action on this photo, blame burnes and noble but dont insult Islam.

  • Before we issue fatwas, let’s take a look and see what they got going on over at Borders. Maybe a Borders in… Boston. (Tom, if you can take some time from gloating over your sports teams, why don’t you stop into a Borders and see what section they stock the Pentateuch.) What are the chances it will be in stock, much less misrepresented by section?

    See, that’s the real issue here. Say it’s Friday early afternoon. The sun’s not close to down but I desperately need a copy of “Handbook on the Pentateuch,: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy” by Victor P. Hamilton and all (two) Judaica stores close at noon. A few blocks away is a Borders. I walk in and… what are the odds I’ll have to special order it?

    The same as “The HarperCollins Study Bible: Fully Revised & Updated” by Harold W. Attridge and Society Of Biblical Literature? I don’t think so. That’s fatwa-worthy.

  • How did I “insult” Islam, Ali?

    By saying that if they put the Torah in the “religious fiction” section, the Koran, and all other religious scriptures, must go there as well?

    Not sure how that’s an insult. And even if it is, it is not illegal in the US to insult anyone or anything. Rude, perhaps, but not illegal.

    Not yet, anyway.

  • Ephraim it isnt illegal in the Uk or in Europe for that matter, but ask Suleiman Rushdie (may the lord pickle and preserve his soul) what the consequences of criticising Mohamed are….. the religion of peace can be very terrifying

  • Rushdie wrote a pointless and hateful book mocking Islam. Critical publications on the life of Mohamad / the Quran are published galore in the Western world. Rushdie’s book wasn’t critical in regards of an exegetic approach; it was full of scorn and at that, pointless. I do not approve of violence as a means of political / religious expression. I do, however, find it even more scary when a large group of allegedly religious scholars condones violence and the destruction of property on account of a woman wearing long-sleeve shirts that are a hue too pink.

  • Can you explain yourself, froylein? I don’t know what you’re talking about.

    Denunciations of Judaism and Christianity are published in the West all the time, too. So what? You’ve heard of Richard Dawkins, right? Should he be forced to shut up or be punished? And what about Christopher Hitchens?

    And so what if “Rushdie wrote a pointless and hateful book mocking Islam”? Is it not his right to do so? Do you believe that he deserves to be under a sentence of death from religious fanatics because he said what he thinks? The right to cause offense is fundamental to the right of free expression. If we allow religious bigots to dictate what we can and cannot say, we are doomed.

    What is all this talk about pink sleeves?

  • OK …let me explain the free market economy in the U.S. to Ephraim and Shimmi. Publicly Held Corporations have an obligation to their shareholders to maximize profitablity. They have no obligation to display anything on their shelves that isn’t going to SELL. They have merchandizing experts who study sku #’s (the bar codes next to the OU on the packages) all day to show which books are moving and which ones are not. The stock in each store reflects what the community in that particular store is buying. If you do not like what they are stocking on their shelves…go shop somewhere else.

    Now, the Public Library has a different obligation. It is paid for with taxpayer dollars..the community public library should reflect the diversity of the community it serves. If it is deficient in one subject or another, one might take it up with local government.

    University Libraries…different story. Kollel libraries…another story altogether.

    Corporations can not commit hate crimes. The can have a workplace environment that is hostile or abusive to certain types of people, in which case they can be sued for violations of Fair Employment Laws, but hate crimes are something altogether different.

    Have either of you considered taking a basic Social Studies class in a community college? You seemed to have skipped some basic U.S. Government History while you were busy learning Arameic and Yiddish.

  • Ephraim, had you read closely above, you would have seen that I do not approve of violence as a means of political or religious expression. Rushdie’s right to write that book could be compared to the right of writing the Protocols of the Learnt Elders of Zion. Both are hatedriven works, not based on facts but personal “dismay”, and I don’t think I need to tell you what horrendous effects the latter book had (which, BTW, just as Rushdie’s book, are abolished over here on grounds of demagoguery). There’s a huge difference between critical exegesis or critical life-of-Mohamed/Jesus research and sleazy pseudo-scientific propaganda disguised in works of fiction. (There’s a reason why hagalil, Europe’s largest online database of Jewish intelligencia, promoted a factbook challenging the statements made by Dan Brown. I’ll give you more details if you want.)

    As for the pink sleeves, I’ll try to find you the link after work. In a nutshell, a couple in a religious community in NY had their car damaged and received threats and requests to leave the community as the wife allegedly was dressed too sleazily. While she obeyed by the long-hemline, no-visible-collar-bone, long-sleeves etc., she opted to wear long sleeves in slightly brighter colours which apparently sparked fury among some. Frum message boards were abuzz with discussions at the time, many of the commentors approving of the damage of property and blackmail as a means of driving this couple out of their neighbourhood. I do find this scary.

  • You’re missing the point, Chutzpah. While I don’t think that the Chumash should be in the “religious fiction” section, if it is going to be put there, fairness demands that all other religious scripture be put there as well. That’s all. The original objection was not to what Barnes & Noble was or was not stocking, it was in how they were (supposedly) stocking it. If the Chumash doesn’t sell, then, yes, they are under no obligation to stock it. But that is not what we are talking about here at all.

    Or do you think that threats by radical Islamists should dictate what books should and should not be sold, as happened with “The Satanic Verses”? If the only obligation of a corporation is to maximize profit for shareholders, then by your logic any time someone phones in a bomb threat over something the corporation is selling, they should stop selling it, right? Since, obviously, a bomb, or even the threat of one, will scare away customers and depress profits. That may be their right, true. But that doesn’t make them any the less moral cowards for it.

    Froylein: yes, I know that Europe has various laws limiting supposedly insulting or defamatory speech. While I can understand the motivation for it (especially considering the history of certain European countries), I think it is, in the final analysis, a mistake, and an extremely grave if not fatal one at that. While I am sure this was not intended, these laws are now being used by Islamists to legally suppress any speech that they consider “insulting” to Islam (see post #42 above). This has the effect of making criticism of Islam, or acts by radical Muslims in supposed “defense of Islam”, off limits to criticism. This is nothing more or less than banning what Muslims consider blasphemy. I am sure that you have heard of the “human rights commission” case in Alberta against Ezra Levant for publishing the supposedly blasphemous “Mohammed cartoons”. The idea that he can be hauled before an Orwellian “human rights commission” for speaking his mind is too awful for words.

    Of course, I think that the “Protocols” is a terrible book. In a perfect world it would not have been written. But if we decide to ban certain kinds of speech, the only kind of speech that will get banned is what violent people will resort to violence (the fatwa against Rushdie) or lawsuits (the “libel tourism” lawsuits instituted against books implicating the Saudis in financing terrorism) to suppress. So far as I can tell, many of the “elite” in Europe are all for prosecuting anyone the Islamists threaten violence against, simply in order to prevent the Islamists from committing the violence they threaten. Normally, one would prosecute those who commit violent acts, or threaten to do so, not censor people who say “You know, I think that certain Islamic practices, such as beheading people for calling Mohammed a false prophet, have no place in Western society”.

    The Vlams Belang politician Geert Wilders is supposedly going to broadcast a film that is highly critical of Islam in the near future. The Dutch government, from what I have read, would very much like to prevent him from doing so since they fear riots by Muslims who will be “insulted” by it. From what I know, Vlams Belang is a racist party with Nazi connections. Not people I would have over for tea. But if allowing them to speak their minds will make it possible for me to speak mine, so be it.

  • Oh, yeah: totally agree on the pink sleeves issue, froylein. As bad as that is, though, these people are not going around telling people outside their community that they will be attacked for dressing immodestly. It’s bad, I agree, but not anywhere as serious for society as a whole as attempts to suppress free speech to placate violent extremists.

  • “Fairness demands”….don’t you get it? There is no “demand of fairness” in what a store sells, how it sells it , why it sells it , when it sells it, what else it sells, how much it costs or how they promote it. They could FAIRLY put a chumash on the clearance table with a sign that said “75% off”.

    If I were the CEO of a corporation and someone called in a bomb threat to take something out of my stores I would considerate the prudent first line of action to protect my customers would be to remove the item. Once the threat was investigated and my stores were secure, I would put it back out if it would still sell. It has nothing to do with being a “moral coward”, it has to do with protecting the business and the customers.

    Corporations do not have “morals”, they are legal entities that represents a large group of decision makers. An example of “moral cowardice” is when a person is so insecure in his own moral position that he has to blackmail and cause property damage to people in his own community.

    If you can’t be good to your own, then you sure as shit can’t be good to others.

  • Yes, I get that Barnes & Noble is under no legal obligation to do what I want. But I can still object if I want. I am not advocating that they be legally compelled to do anything; I am objecting to what appeared at first to be a denigration of Judaism. There is a difference between legal and proper. Don’t you get it?

    So if the “Protocols”, “Mein Kampf” “Little Black Sambo” and “Chin Chin Chinaman” are what people want to read, cool to stick ’em in the front window, right?

    Not sure what you’re on about the pink sleeve thing. Already said it wasn’t cool.

  • Ephraim, the banning of books has its pros and its cons. However, the bowing-to-Islam stance Europe allegedly takes according to foreign media couldn’t be farther from the truth. (Just as not every US American is highly obese and only eats fast food; an image certain media like to draw over here.) Politicians, religious leaders, NGOs etc. are extremely critical of Islamism and crimes excused as acts of religious faith. There is, however, a pseudo-intelligencia among many journalists here (as my lil bro likes to say, “Too dumb to do a proper job, too ugly to be a TV anchorman, too annoying to appear on the radio – become a journalist.”) that thinks it’s progressive to be critical of Israel, falling prey – if given the benefit of the doubt – to “eyewitness accounts” and staged photographs.

  • You all are taking this waaaaaaay too seriously. Honestly, there’s no conspiracy behind this! The most likely scenario, as has been posited already, is that this was a simple mix-up by some store grunt.

    If the offensive suggestion of this mistake were to be calmly brought to the attention of the store manager, I’m certain that the situation would be rectified immediately.

  • Oyster, we just love discussing things. πŸ™‚ But I’ll set up my new printer now. Yay.

  • Oysterl:

    I am aware that this was a simple mistake. Way up at the top of the thread (right after I blew my top), I retracted my remarks. Everything else after that is a hypothetical: what if it was intentional?

    Froylen: I hope you’re right about opposition to Islamism in Europe. We read over here what the elite say. And, of course, about people like Geert Wilders, who is the poster boy for the pro-Islmaists, who can point at him and say all opposition to Islam in Europe is because of racism.

    However, it is still a fact that in Britain, for example, publishers have quickly knuckled under to lawsuits brought by Islamists for no other reason that to suppress free speech that is critical of Islam(ism). British law seems to make this very easy, so there is obviously a very big problem that we don’t (as yet anyway) seem to be facing here.

  • The British constitution is not codified, which makes it pretty easy to change laws there, and the majority of people there even tend to be unaware of such changes.

  • Froylein, I am not aware of the shocking pink sleeve story that you so rightly condemn, I think you know pretty well my views on such things. But really I feel one needs to take issue with the comparison you seem to be drawing. NO one has ever been executed even in the frummest of communities for disobeying a dress code however immodest (probably the more immodest the better…haha). Whereas in Afghanistan under the Taliban women were shot for wearing white shoes!

    As a person who knows frum society close up as you do, you have to admit however imperfect things may be, it simply is not dangerous for a Gentile or even a secular jew to walk the streets of Boro Park…..fancy a weekend in Ramallah?????

  • As for the British constitution and freedom of expression. its true that there is no written constitution and there is no such thing as a bill of rights. However this is probably one of the most tolerant countries in the world, and go out of their way to protect all minorities, and they have even recently come to their senses regarding the Muslim community that incitement to hatred will not be tolerated at any level. Free speech does not give the right of incitement, the muslim agenda has been widely exposed.

  • Let me just say that I’m surprised that this post went the way that it did. When I took the photo, I was more amused at it than anything else; I certainly didn’t take it for some kind of affront to Judaism. I proudly wore my kippah and tzitzit while taking the photograph and I walked away chuckling. Personally, I have so much pride and confidence in myself and my religion that things like this simply don’t even register as anything more than a momentary laugh (I don’t throw a tantrum anytime someone says anything even remotely unflattering about my religion). Of course, on the other hand, this doesn’t mean that I don’t get nervous when I go to certain parts of town or get looked at in certain ways. Sure, I’ve had some idiots drive by in a truck and yell, ‘NICE YARMULKE!’, in a way that was clearly meant to be derisive. Would my getting offended change anything about that situation? Would it change how that guy felt about Jews? Does that guy even feel anything at all about Jews or was he just feeding off his testosterone so as to impress whatever buddies were with him?

    Just as the ‘pink sleeves’ issue is alarming, this kind of knee-jerk OMG LET’S GET ‘EM reaction is also alarming. It’s a placard. In a bookstore. How does it at all escalate into the morality of Rushdie’s freedom of speech compared to that of the Protocols? Now, I don’t mean to be insulting or to rain on anyone’s debate parade nor am I too familiar with this site and whatever constitutes as normal commentary around here but this all seems a bit much over a photo that was meant to be more tongue-and-cheek than anything else.

    Just wanted to add this comment and also to add that this photo was taking at the B&N located near one of the two primarily Jewish neighborhoods. However you read that is up to you but I figure if they wanted to insult Judaism, someone would’ve loaded up the area with books on Hitler.

    Anyway, as you were.

  • OMG, Akiva is a self-hating Jew!!

    Jus’ kiddin’ Akiva. Listen, your point is right on, but one never knows how a discussion will develop, on this site or anywhere for that matter.

    However, to be honest, I’m actually a little pleased that we got from a placard in a store to the morality of RushdieÒ€ℒs freedom of speech compared to that of the Protocols. It’s more interesting than chuckling about the store’s error and moving on.

  • TM is right; we could have digressed in much worse directions. πŸ™‚ BTW, Britain’s also got a Bill of Rights and considerable problems with racism particularly in the industrial cities of the North and the Midlands.
    And where’s Tom? πŸ™ Hope he didn’t get creeped out.. My supposition of his middlename initial was just mere fiction, based on the knowledge of the popularity of middlenames / middlename initials among people of a certain educational background in the U.S. Since it may well be the case that Tom’s got a middlename (initial), my asking for its meaning did not surprise anyone, yet I laid out premises I could not base on facts available to me at that time, but the odds of those facts being true or at the very least credible were rather high. So πŸ™‚

  • I nominate Froyleins last comment for first prize in Gobbledigook 2008.

    by the way when did we get a bill of rights?

    I studied British Constitution at school (yes many years ago) and we didnt have one then, there is no written constitution, and the subject of establishing a bill of rights has been widely debated over the years. In fact we are not even classed as citizens rather as subjects of HM the Queen!

    anyone who has a human rights issue in this country allways resorts to the European Court, since there aint no bill of rights here.

    of course there are racial tensions in Northern cities, guess why?….. they are almost totally dominated by our muslim peace loving brothers…. thats why the BNP and other hate parties have a platform for stirring up trouble. this doesnt affect the plain fact that UK is still one of the most tolerant countries in the world. Despite this the authorities are coming to terms with muslim extremism and are systematically exposing goings on in the muslim community. Thank GD they have taken off their kid gloves.

  • 1689. That’s when Britain got its Bill of Rights; learnt that during Cultural Studies UK class at university. You should ask for a refund of your tuition money.

    Where do the racial tensions come from? Failed integration and immigration policies, an ailing economy, failure to establish businesses and develop jobs in the tertiary and quartenary economy sectors, a below-average state-run educational system (as PISA has shown), strong class awareness despite alleged equality, and for years a PM that spent up to 60,000 quid per year on professional facials, etc. BTW, not everybody is equal before the law in Britain. The Sovereign still may not marry a Catholic and the Prime Minister may not be a Catholic either.

    Just because you do not understand something does not mean it’s not valid. “There are more things in heaven and earth, [. . . ], than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

    Gobbledygook (note the spelling)? Rather, please save me from your racist shtuss.

  • froylein, Tony Blair made his way around that requirement, didn’t he?….

    No worries about my silence. I just went to ground for a few days after Ephraim hurled his gross insults at Islam and the Prophet. He’s spent too much time browsing Barnes & Noble’s Danish Cartoon section.

    Anyway, back from under my mattress. And Ephraim won’t disappoint us– you can be sure he marched against racism last Monday.

  • Tom, he certainly did – and made an important statement at that.

    Does marching around in front of a mirror qualify as marching against racism?

    Oh, BTW, have you got a middlename (intial)?

  • Add to the Bill of Rights of 1689 the Human Rights Act 1998, the notion of Parliamentary Supremacy, case law and unwritten constitutional conventions.

  • ck, I’d spontaneously kiss you now had I not caught a cold. The thought is there though.

  • Froylein:

    Are you talking about me? Why would I walk around in front of a mirror? Not sure what you’re getting at. I think you must be talking about someone else. What important statement? Enquiring minds want to know.

    But if anyone is interested, yeah, I circled the dining room table a few times, and then my wife and I took a walk.

    Oh, BTW, just thought that I would let Jewlicious know that my son was awarded smicha this past Sunday in Yerushalayim.

    Virtual schnapps for everyone!

  • Ephraim, me? Talking about you? How dare I? πŸ™‚

    The important statement was that the true religious feelings of a PM cannot be told from the official label stuck on him and that what matters in the end is how good (or not) a politician he is. (After Tony Blair had resigned, he soon converted to Catholicism. His wife and the kids are Catholic.)

    Mazel tov to your son!

  • Thanks, Middle, you wishy-washy mealy mouth. πŸ˜‰

    I don’t remember talking about the British PM, froylein, but whatever.

  • Hooray! A half teaspoon of Slivovitz in my coffee says Mazal Tov to Ephraim !!!

  • Well, froylein, you told Tom I “made an important statement”. I was just wondering what it was.

    What’s ADS?

  • Nah, Ephraim, I was referring to Tony Blair, who’d made an important statement with his conversion. Note that in comment #68, Tom names Blair in his first line. Note that in comment #69, my first line is set off from the rest of the comment by a blank line, and I used the personal pronoun “he”, which certainly wasn’t the best thing to do stylistically, but in analogy to the structure of Tom’s comment, it referred to the male protagonist of his first line.

    ADS is anacronym for attention deficit syndrome; I could as well have said, “Focus!” πŸ˜‰

  • Tony Blair was one of the great leaders, manicured or not, and for the first time a British PM was a true friend of Israel.

    Jews in the UK historically over the past generation have tended to vote conservative, since they were the party of free enterprise and small government. But they have felt eminently comfortable with Blair at the Helm…. not so with his succesor.

  • Ah.

    Yes, froylein. It could have been clearer.

    I’ll focus if you’ll learn to write a bit more clearly.

    Deal?

    Muffti, if we ever meet, the schnapps (the first round, anyway) is on me.

  • Same goes for you, ck. If I ever get to Jerusalem, I will let you know. However, don’t expect any arrack from me. Nasty stuff.

    Maybe when my son’s twin brother gets his semicha. But he’s busy raising a family (grandkid #2 is due around Pesach, 11 months after the 1st one) so I’m not sure when that will be.

  • froylein, sure, I’ve a Middle, uh, middle name, but aren’t my first and last ones enough? I mean, I’d be happy to fork over my Social or my PIN number. Or, how’s this–you can find me in Sec. 218, Box 123, Row CC, Seats 1 and 2. (Maybe ramon will join me there sometime.)

  • Ephraim, I’ll take the blame for not having used Blair’s proper name instead of a personal pronoun. I’ll try to keep my sentences short in future (blame my Latin teacher) if you try to be a little nicer. Deal?

    Tom, that would be way more than asked for, but thanks anyway.

  • Mazel Tov Ephraim. I guess you make alot of money to help pay for one grandbaby after another or is that what machatunim are for?

  • Nope. I’ve got a coupe of kopecks, but nothing out of the ordinary.

    My son was smart and married a doctor (or, rather, she decided he was the one she was going to marry) who has rich parents (well, richer than me, anyway). But AFAIK, they’re doing fine. I’m sure I would have heard about if they weren’t.

    As for the “one baby after another” thing, yeah, I think they could take a breather. But she’s got some kind of “keep up with the Cohens” thing going on. All of her girlfriends have three or four kids, and she wants to catch up or something. Weird. She’s the 8th of 9 kids and she thinks that’s normal. I have no idea where this is going to end.

  • Hmmm, my great-grandparents had up to 14 siblings each, but decided that they would not have so many children themselves. Afterall their generation was one to face a drastic decrease in infant mortality and was the first to benefit from retirement plans.

    So, what qualifies you as “nice”?

  • I have friends. If I were really an asshole, I wouldn’t have any.

    But, of course, you’ll just have to take my word for it.

  • Anyone who thinks the bible is *not* fiction (and I am aware that this includes a very large number of people of many different religions) is out of touch with reality.

  • It will end when she has a nervous breakdown from holding down a high pressure job and constantly being pregnant; or, maybe she’ll be lucky and just kill one of her patients by committing malpractice caused by exhaustion. Or maybe she’ll stop after she has one with special needs/birth defects. Maybe she’ll stop when she sees that even with scholarship and aid from rich in-laws & parents that yeshiva tuition costs to much. Maybe she’ll stop when she dies in childbirth. God forbid any of these things should happen, but they are happening every day and none of the leaders of the Girls High Schools are doing anything about it.

    The ideal of the Frum Career Woman/Eishas Chayil with a over half a dozen offspring is so dysfunctional I could write a dissertation on it. It sets the bar higher than even the brightest of the bright or richest of the rich can achieve and enjoy and the same time.

    As for my girls, I’ve already taught them that life is not a frum contest or a babymaking contest.

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