Tonight starts Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement (10 Tishrei on our calendar), our holiest day marked by fasting, prayer, and reflection. Ahead of this, a few miscellaneous observations from the media:
(a) The orientalist Dr. Mordechai Kedar (professor of Arabic at Bar-Ilan University, and fairly frequently interviewed by Arabic-language media if they choose to present an Israeli Zionist view in Arabic) shared his “year that was” on ALex Zeitlin’s YouTube channel (in Hebrew). About 21:30 into the video, he points out something that perhaps is obvious to people who live here, but not necessarily to outside observers:
The vehemence with which King Abdullah hectors Israel about accepting a “two-state solution” and a “Palestinian state in the West Bank” is not necessarily motivated by his personal enthusiasm for this cause, or by animosity toward Israel proper. The main motive is his own political survival.
Where it used to be the Israeli right-wing that was floating the slogan “Jordan is Palestine” or “Palestinian state in Jordan”, this has now become a slogan of “Palestinian intellectuals” living in Jordan. They are increasingly talking about “al-watan el-badil” [sp?], “the alternative homeland”, in a region running from the Jordan river to Amman. [NB: “Palestinian” Arabs are actually the majority of the Jordanian population, although the country’s elite belongs to the Beduin minority, and the royal family of course came from the Ḥejaz region in present-day Saudi Arabia.]
(b) New York Post columnist Karol Markowicz[*] comments in The Spectator (UK) about the way in which the elite imposes severe COVID restrictions on “the peons” that it flaunts itself. How ancient Roman: quod licet Jovi, non licet bovi — that which is permitted to Jupiter is not permitted to the [lowly] ox.
I definitely am glad to be living in a country where, socio-economic disparities aside, there is not [yet?] such an extreme feudal-serf rift.
(c) Speaking of neo-feudals and the serfs they lord it over, it appears the Gavin Newsom/Noisome/Nuisance recall has failed. Presumably he will celebrate his “victory” at the French Laundry. Check out Dave Rubin on YouTube: I also wonder what Joel Kotkin will have to say.
(c) I was amused to see in the Jerusalem Post [which has become a mess] that “China’s Xi refuses Biden’s offer of face-to-face summit“. How silly: of course Xi only will meet him ‘head’ to rear carapace.
Back in the day, Modern Drummer magazine’s poll was won five years in a row by Rush’s Neil Peart (RIP) — so they created a “Hall of Fame” status to give somebody else a chance of winning. Similarly, but l’havdil [freely: “not wishing to compare”], I am giving Zhou Bi Den “Hall of Fame” (or Hall of Infamy?) status for the Turtleboy of the Month award, or my illustrious (ahem) prize committee could just award it to him every month.
(d) relatedly, the Jerusalem Post back in the day (when it was still a readable newspaper) used to run a feature: “Teshuvah: The Ten Neediest Cases” about the ten [Israeli and diaspora Jewish] public figures most in need of repentance and apology. I would place Biden’s chief of staff Ron Klain at the top of that list, because whoever is minding “Joe nisht mit allem in” [Joe ‘not all there’] right now will have an awful lot to answer for one day, if not before an earthly court then before a Heavenly one. It might be that all this disastrous stuff is actually the work of different puppeteers and Klain is trying to mitigate the damage. But I have my doubts, even as we are enjoined [Pirkei Avot 1:6] to “judge everyone on the credit side of the scales” (דן את כל אדם לכף זכות) all year, and especially before this holiday. We might know the true answer one day.
Finally: at the beginning of the holiday, we have a strange prayer in Aramaic [once the lingua franca of the entire region] in which we request of the Almighty that He annul all vows [kol nidrei] which were made under duress. Max Bruch adapted the melody for cello and orchestra. Here is one performance, by Mischa Maisky.
[*] “Karol” is actually a woman, surprisingly (given the Slavic last name): Karol with a ‘K’ in Polish is the equivalent of Charles, as in Karol Wojtyla/Pope John Paul II, RIP.