9/13 – 9/14 reads

First Blood

Sometimes conspiracy theories are not so far-fetched.  It seems that Meir Kahane might have been the first event in the current history of Al-Qaida terrorism on US soil.  This essay describes some of the history of the beginnings of Al-Qaida and its connections with the group that assassinated Kahane.  Very fascinating and very scary at the same time. 

The imam behind the New York mosque enjoys his megaphone

The author’s premise is that the Imam is causing his own bad publicity by trying to continuously make the argument about the value of his institution being built near Ground Zero.  I have said much on the subject in previous posts, so I will leave the editorial to speak for itself. 

Pastor Terry Jones, as right as John Brown

An interesting editorial, for the author, Richard Cohen, argues that Terry Jones, while wrong for wanting to burn the Quran, should also be defended as expressing his freedom of speech and expression.  This is an interesting debate in its own right, as to what constitutes the limits of the freedom of expression.  Yet, I think Cohen has one thing clearly correct.  An America in which one cannot express himself because of fear of repercussions is not a free America.  Nevertheless, as I have already written, the burning of religious books, regardless of the religion is overstepping the boundaries. 

How will al-Qaeda mark the 10th anniversary of 9/11?

We should not be so complacent as to believe nothing will happen again.  Many Americans think we are nearly as safe as we were before 9/11.  I think we have short memories.  Be that as it may, this editorial is a reminder of all the failed and successful terrorist plots.  By definition, a terrorist plot doesn’t have to succeed to be a terrorist attack.  The failures also strike fear, for they can be seen as the what ifs.  This is in contrast to another recent editorial, Post 9/11: we’re safer than we think.  Zakaria argues that we have all but neutralized Al-Qaida and should feel safer today.  As such, perhaps we should back off the war on terrorism.  Yet, if we slow down, we might allow for the rebuilding of the radical movements.  Besides, Al-Qaida isn’t the only one and to quote a figure of 400 might be underestimating the number of sleeper cells that had been in place. 

The Golem of Prague & The Golem of Rehovoth

This small essay was originally published in Commentary.  It can also be found in Scholem’s The Messianic Idea in Judaism.  First off, this is quite an interesting comparison of robotics/computers and the ancient idea of the humanoid fashioned by man.  I particularly like the point by point comparison at the end.  In 2010, man has created an artificial form of speech for this machine, almost one-upping the old Golem stories.  Yet, it is not human speech so much as processed speech from human writing.  Also, Scholem sees ahead to our days, when computers are sleek and attractive, taking up little space.  For more about the idea of Golem, see The Golem: Universal and Particular.  The notion of the Golem is found in different forms throughout literature and mystical thinking.  It is another form of humanity believing it can have “control” over the elements.   

Who’s Bluffing: Abbas or Netanyahu?

The evidence is clear that the peace process is again doomed to failure.  The reality is that until the Arab governments accept the legitimacy of Israel being a Jewish country, peace isn’t possible.  The Israeli government, for better or worse, is willing to discuss trading more land for peace, but they require the recognition of the state as a trade-off.

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