9/1 Reads

Mind the Grid

This blog piece is another thought about the challenges of modern technology getting in the way of mindfulness, contemplation and spiritual growth.  Personally, one of the benefits of Shabbat is that the phone goes off, the computer goes off, leaving me with a day to read and think.  Granted, I still read the newspaper on Shabbat (the horror), but at least I can do so in a leisurely manner. 

My favorite line was a question the author posed at he beginning of his piece: 

Who knows how much of my newfound calm is due to escaping modern technology and how much is due to immersing myself in an ancient discipline?

You Ain’t Seen This Before

Friedman compares the Israel-Palestinian situation with the Iraqi Sunni-Shiite situation as two potentially impossible to resolve crises.  He is correct in once sense, namely that resolving centuries old conflicts are not something that can happen overnight.  That being said, how does it make sense to compare words to action.  Comparing the inexcusable words of Rav Ovadiah Yosef with the killing of four Israelis by a Hamas terrorist seems unfair.  Most of the time, from what we are told, while the Religious Zionist Rabbis utter hateful thoughts, most situations don’t end in absolute violence.  Granted, there have been times when it has, such as Yigal Amir’s assassination of Yitzchak Rabin, but still, the numbers of terrorists attacks clearly favors the Palestinians.   I sometimes think American leadership is too arrogant, thinking they can find a solution to problems that almost seem genetic. 

A Peace Plan Within Our Grasp

Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak offers his opinion on the peace talks to start tomorrow.  He argues that the infrastructure is in place but all that remains is for the psychology of violence to come to an end.  As is typical, while he recognizes the need for Egypt to be part of the solution, the blame ultimately falls on Israel for not being as quick to give up land.  Of course, these words are published the day after another shooting near Qiryat Arba, in which 4 Israelis were killed (Snap analysis: Mideast peace talks jeopardized at starting gate).  So, Israel offers land and blood is shed.  Israel doesn’t want to return land, blood is shed.  I don’t know, but it seems to me that something doesn’t add up.

Cemetery Politics

Allen Nadler reviews some of the summers controversial graveyard issues in Israel, as both the Haredi community and the Arab Israeli community have used the existence of a cemetary to fight for their agendas. 

A Symposium: What Is Moderate Islam?

This symposium is a must read.  The phrase moderate Islam is one fraught with much controversy.  Some of the writers, specifically the Islamic ones, find moderate to imply that somehow they are inauthentic.  They prefer terms like normative Islam or modernist Islam.  All the authors agree that the average Islamic person is not extremist, but someone concerned about living life and making sure to have food on the table.  I often use that argument myself.  However, the challenge we face is that most of us are only exposed to the extremists, who number more than a fringe few. 

Obama Peace Talks for Israel, Palestine Will Fail: Yossi Beilin

Beilin claims that the current American proposal will cause a complete failure of the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.  There is a pragmatic nature to his words as he cautions that too much too fast is not going to work.  Peace needs to be slow and steady.   

Married Couples Grow More Alike, Right? Wrong

This piece presents a debate about whether married couples become more alike or if they simply are alike from the start because we look for similar personality traits.  It could be some of both.  It would be hard for people living together not to begin acting in complimentary ways over time. 

Alcohol and Health: Why the Sober Die Sooner

The study discussed in this piece seems misleading.  The sober die sooner more likely from other factors than because they don’t indulge in drink.  Yet, maybe moderate drinking is healthy, as other studies have shown.


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