This is the place for mostly column rants and a few other things I find interesting. People are free to add comments here. If you add a comment, you must either be registered or leave an email address. Anonymous comments and spam will be deleted.
Let us, however, in our plans, direct our attention not so much to what is good and moral as to what is necessary and useful. --Protocols of the Elders of Zion
“And you're just going to tell everyone?” he asks. “Pretty soon word'll get out.... Ruin everything... It would destroy thousands of years. Let me tell you: Forget it! Only don't come running back to me. Once you do this, it's over. Like I said before, you won't survive.”
“I'm an old man, George,” I tell him. “I don't have much time left anyway.”
I'm talking with George Tabb. We're in the dressing room of The Continental. I'm there for Revival Two, the second annual reuion of ever-older farts. Downstairs is the dressing room. In a corner of that room, George and I talk about... well, you'll read it.
“After this blood libel thing with Sarah Palin... I gotta speak out.” I tell him.
“Ya gotta do what ya gotta do,” he tells me. “But you're destroying 5000 years of history in the process. It's worse than the holocaust. It might even lead to another one.”
I nod grimly. We hug. It's like we're parting forever. Maybe we are.
Flashback:The year is 1952. Six months before my bar mitzvah. As with every Jewish boy, it's during this time we're introduced to the wonders and mysteries of Jewishness. My parents have driven me to the synagogue.
“You won't forget today,” says my father as I get out of the car. Are his eyes wet?
It's early April, a week before Passover. An air of solemnity... awe... fear... blankets the inner chamber of the synagogue. There is no Hebrew school teacher today.... just the rabbi, Rabbi Alterkake.
Looking back, I guess he wasn't a very tall man, but to me, he seemed like a giant. A fierce looking face with a long gray beard and big eyebrows... two fat caterpillars above deep set eyes.
“Mykel,” says the rabbi. He speaks with a slightly Eastern European accent.... like my grandfather. His deep voice sounds like the voice of GOD.
“You will never forget today,” he says. “It is time for you to know what it really means to be a Jew. You might have heard whispers... rumors dismissed with a wave of the hand. Still, you wondered. Today you will know.”
If you've ever been inside a synagogue, you'll remember that on the Eastern wall, facing Jerusalem, is a tall boxlike structure. It's called an ark. It contains one or two scrolls... dressed fancy with chestplates and crowns. If you've attended a Jewish service, you might have seen the rabbi read from one. When not being read, the scrolls rest on velvet in the back of the ark.
Rabbi Alterkake takes me by the hand and leads me up to the ark. He removes the two scrolls and sets them on a stand. Then he reaches to the blue velvet. There is a snap or zipper or some kind of fastener. I'm not exactly sure. Whatever it is, he unfastens it and pushes against the wood underneath. It is a door. And it silently swings open.
On the other side, a staircase leads downwards. It looks unimaginably old... wooden... rickety... like those staircases in horror movies. The rabbi leads, entering the back of the ark and going down the stairs. I follow.
If this were a movie, the rabbi would have a candle in his hand. We'd be casting eerie shadows on the wall. It isn't. We aren't.
I'm not exactly sure where the light is coming from. There must be bulbs in the staircase ceiling that I don't notice. What I do notice is that the stairs end at a large door... like a giant refrigerator door... white, with a metal handle. Rabbi Alterkake pulls the handle and it silently swings open. We step inside a room.
It's dark. Before my eyes can adjust, the door swings shut behind us with a little whoosh! I feel like I'm in a church crypt... like those I read about in old European cathedrals.
As my eyes adjust I make out a very plain room: four concrete walls. On each of the four walls is a white scroll with a giant Hebrew letter on it.
Aleph, Peh, Lamed, Feh. And hanging from the ceiling in the center of the room is another giant Lamed.
In the middle of the room is a cross. It's on an alter, and it's big. Bigger than my 4 foot eleven inch self. A Christian cross. Why?
I wonder if the synagogue is constructed over an old church. But why did they keep the cross there? Why would the rabbi take me to visit it? I can't imagine what Jesus has to do with getting ready for a bar mitzvah.
We approach the cross, circling around to the other side... facing the Aleph on the wall.
It is not Jesus on the cross. It is a little boy... naked... tied to the cross beam by his wrists.
“This is the fate of the goyim,” says the rabbi. “God made us His chosen people. In every generation, the goyim have tried to destroy us. We survive because we respect God. We follow God's instructions.”
He walks to a shelf attached to the concrete wall, just to the right of the Lamed. On that shelf lies a huge pair of scissors-- like the Jewish tailors use to cut cloth in midtown New York.
“We survive,” continues the rabbi, “because we follow the rituals of our fathers... and our fathers' fathers.”
He walks up to the Christian boy... a blond kid, about five years old... Dutchboy haircut. The rope around his wrists is red with blood. He must've scraped the skin off trying to escape. His knees are about eye level to the rabbi.. His face wrinkles in fear. Tears smear his cheeks. His nose drips snot.
A small bucket lies on the floor, directly beneath the child. I recognize the Hebrew letters etched into the metal. One looks like a fiery N. I recognize it as Aleph, the first letter of the alphabet. The other is long, a bit like a P. It's the Hebrew Feh.
The F-sound. I have no idea what they mean. They must be related to the symbols on the wall. It's all mysterious... foreign.
A drop of blood falls from boy's tiny wrists to the floor. The rabbi reaches up between the boy's legs. The kid tries to twist his knees to protect the tiny glands he will eventually surrender. Slapping the offending legs, the rabbi presses onward.
Pushing his right hand between the child's legs, the rabbi uses the scissors in his left hand to point to the bucket. Then he points to a spot on the cross, under the legs of the naked boy.
“Hold that here,” he says.
I lift the bucket and hold it where I'm told.
The rabbi's right hand is tight between the kids' legs. He hooks his fingers around the tiny testicles. He pulls and a horrible scream comes from the kid's mouth. Reaching up with the scissors, he puts the two tiny glands between the sharp edges, then presses the handle together. A worse scream issues from the child's mouth. Worse than anything I've ever heard.
That sound still haunts me, 60 years later. It was a scream like the pain of the world. A scream that pierces every bone, like the cold of a wet winter day. A scream that made my 12 and a half year old body tremble as if it were happening to me.
“And they think matzo ball soup is made from balls of matzo,” says the rabbi with a small ironic smile.
The scream dies to a whisper. A kind of sob/hiccup. The bucket I'm holding fills with the blood dripping from the open wound between the boy's legs. At first it's a torrent, splashing out, over my hands, onto my shirt. The torrent turns into a river. The river to a stream. The stream to a trickle. Time slows as the flow of blood slows. TICK... TICK... TICK... DROP... DROP... DROP. Eventually it's over.
The boy is quiet now, his naked legs covered in red rivulets, like a Jackson Pollock painting. The terror is gone from his face. It's almost like he's sleeping, his chin resting against his small chest. His skin is as white and pale as the paper I'm typing this on.
The rabbi walks to another shelf, this one next to the giant Alef. He takes a book from that shelf. It looks like The Koran. At least my 12 year old image of what the Koran looks like. The writing is certainly Arabic, not Hebrew. The book looks old-- but gilded... and holy.
He rips a page from the book and places on it the two little testes he's snipped from the goy on the cross.
He folds the paper around the glands and puts them in the pocket of his long coat. He then spits into the book, rubs it on the seat of his pants and puts it back on the shelf.
I don't know what happens to the little body. My guess is that it's taken down, and walled up behind one of those giant Hebrew letters. It's one of the many things I never find out.
I follow the rabbi back up the stairs. The blood of the little blond boy swishes in the bucket I'm carrying. Kerblub! Kerblub! Telmwirl! Telmwirl! It sounds like it's talking to me.
Tell the word! Tell the world! it's saying.
It's a scene that every Jewish boy has witnessed for the past thousand years. Two thousand. Five thousand. And until now, no one has ever told... or if they have, their reports have been ridiculed as blood libel.
Now you know. Blood it is. Libel, unfortunately, it is not.
-->Credit where its due dept: There are very few big internet corporations that I like... though I use them. Facebook is a privacy horror. Apple has turned itself into a God. eBay spawned the Meg Whitman monster. But sometimes, you've got to give credit.
In December, the U.S. government got a court order demanding Twitter turn over information about people connected to WikiLeaks. The court order added a gag demand that prevented Twitter from telling anyone, especially the targets of the order, about the order’s existence.
Instead of caving in Google-like, Twitter successfully challenged the gag order in court. Then they told the targets that their data was being requested. That gave the victims time to try to quash the order themselves.
Twitter’s move comes as a ton of spineless companies, including PayPal, MasterCard, Visa, and Bank of America banned donations to WikiLeaks. Amazon.com voluntarily threw the site off its hosting platform, though there’s nothing illegal in publishing classified documents.
By standing up for its users, Twitter showed guts and principles. Ten punk points for you, Twitter.
-->Did it happen to you? dept: If you have a website that has been threatened with a suit or received a letter asking that material be removed... there's help for you. A website called Chilling Effect (http://chillingeffects.org/) will help you stand up for your first amendment rights... and least the few you have left.
-->Telling a man by his friends dept: TV preacher Pat Robertson was told he may not have to testify in the war crimes trial of his business partner, former Liberian dictator, Charles Taylor. Robertson got ten percent of the profits of a Liberian company ironically called Freedom Gold. In 2003, Robertson pulled some strings for his pal by criticizing GWB for "destabilizing Liberia," which meant trying to get rid of the dictator. Robertson had made no such similar comments when GWB tried to get rid of another leader... Saddam Hussein.
-->Secular sectarianism dept: The French government has banned the burka in France. The excuse? "We're a secular nation." They have not, however, banned Jesus bling or mezuzahs on doorposts.