Artist Nina Paley’s Beautiful Animation of the Ten Plagues

Death_of_the_Firstborn_Egyptians_on_Vimeo

I promise, you’ll enjoy Nina’s beautiful animation and want to share it with others. Chag Sameach~  MG

The Ten Plagues of Egypt

From Nina Paley’s Blog

Here they are, in order, in time for Passover: all Ten Plagues I animated for Seder-Masochism, my feature-film-in-progress. Yes, they will be joined together by a unifying narrative device in the final film, but for now they exist as separate clips. Click on each one for more information and higher resolution.

 

Indiana GOP: But We Put Lots of Perfume on This Skunk! How Dare You Say It Stinks (VIDEO)

GOP leaders in Indiana are doing verbal somersaults  trying to defend their “It’s OK to discriminate against anyone you don’t like” law.  In today’s edition of The Atlantic,  Garret Epps does a fact check on their argument that the Indiana law is no different that Religious Freedom Restoration Act bills passed by the Federal government and 25 other states.  Garret definitively identifies clauses in the Indiana law that make it OK for businesses to refuse service to anyone under the guise of protecting their religious beliefs.

In this video, two Indiana Republican House leaders ineffectually dodge the question, “doesn’t this bill allow business to discriminate against LGBT people?” Yes,” is the response,  BUT ONLY if you are living in a county that does not has a human rights ordinance.

Wanna bet how many counties in the Hoosier State have human rights ordinance that protects LGBT people?

In other words, in pandering to most intolerant, simple-minded folks in the state, Indiana Republicans passed a bill that gives bigots the right to act on their hate.  Now that the stupidity of their move is evident to the world, they want you to believe that they are just the latest innocent Christians being thrown to the lions.

“We’re dosing this skunk with as much perfume as we can, why do you keep calling it a stinker?”

It’s His Policies Not His Skin Color I have a Problem With!

prejudice and judgement.001If we’ve heard it once, we’ve heard from practically every person who expresses passionate disdain for Barack Obama:  I don’t have a problem with his race, its his policies I disagree with.  And while no doubt it is possible to not be a racist and disagree with this progressive, humanistic President, the vitriol directed at him is usually disproportionate to whatever the policy disagreement is all about.  Why?

Kudos to Haaretz columnist Chemi Shalev for preparing this informative story which reminds us that one of most beloved saints of American conservative politics, Ronald Reagan,  was incredibly tough in his dealings with Israel.  (Daddy Bush also played hardball with Israel. I remember attending a national Jewish conference in the early 1990’s at which everyone was livid that Bush was refusing to give Israel loan guarantees because of the non-stop building of new settlements on the West Bank.)

If you’re one of those people who is convinced that President Barack Obama -who has increased military aid to Israel, provided Israel with the latest military equipment,  supported it at every turn at the UN, challenged Arab leaders to put an end to cultural anti-Semitism, accept and make peace with the Jewish State -has been the “worst President ever” for Israel, you need to read this piece and reconsider.

by Chemi Shalev

If Obama treated Israel like Reagan did, he’d be impeached

Former President Ronald Reagan’s confrontations with Israel were harsh and personal, yet Republican conservatives revere him and the Jews remember him as a great friend.

Imagine if Israel would launch a successful preemptive strike against a country that is building a nuclear bomb that threatens its very existence, and the American president would describe it as “a tragedy”.

And then, not only would the U.S. administration fail to “stand by its ally”, as Republicans pledged this week, but it would actually lend its hand to a UN Security Council decision that condemns Israel, calls on it to place its nuclear facilities under international supervision and demands that it pay reparations (!) for the damage it had wrought.

And then, to add insult to injury, the U.S. president would impose an embargo on further sales of F-16 aircraft because Israel had “violated its commitment to use the planes only in self-defense”.

Can you imagine the uproar? Can you contemplate the brouhaha? I mean, if Mitt Romney believes that President Obama “threw Israel under the bus” just for suggesting that a peace settlement with Israel be based on the 1967 borders – what would he say about a president who actually turns his back on Israel in its greatest time of need? That he hurled Israel over the cliff with a live grenade in its pocket and into a burning volcano?

And what if that very same president, only a few months later, would decide to sell truly game-changing sophisticated weaponry to Saudi Arabia, an Arab country that is a sworn enemy of Israel? And not only would this president dismiss Israeli objections that these weapons endanger its security, but he would actually warn, in a manner that sent shivers down the spines of American Jews, that “it is not the business of other nations to make American foreign policy”. And his Secretary of State would mince no words, just in case Walt or Mearsheimer hadn’t heard the first time, saying ominously that if the deal would be blocked by Israeli influence, there would be “serious implications on all American policies in the Middle East… I’ll just leave it there.” And then the two of them would extend the abovementioned arms embargo, just to twist Israel’s arm a little bit more.

I mean, what words would be left to describe such behavior, after the entire thesaurus’ arsenal of synonyms for “insult” “perfidy” and “knife in the back” have been exhausted to describe the official White House photo of President Obama talking to Prime Minister Netanyahu with his shoes on the table?

And what if this same president – you know who I’m talking about by now, but let’s keep up the charade – what if this same president, time after time after time, not only failed to exercise the U.S. veto in the UN Security Council to block anti-Israeli resolutions, but actually joined Muslim and Communist and other heathen countries in supporting Security Council decisions that condemned Israel for assassinating well-known terrorists; for annexing territories that Michele Bachman has clearly stated belong only to Israel; for killing violent jihadist students at Bir Zeit University; for waging war against the enemies of Western civilization in Lebanon; and even for “Israel’s policies and practices denying the human rights of Palestinians.” Denying the human rights of Palestinians? Who wrote that? Judge Goldstone? Khaled Meshal?

But because Newt Gingrich is already on record as saying of the Obama Administration that “this one-sided, continuing pressure that says it’s always the Israelis’ fault no matter how bad the other side is has got to stop,” we have no doubt that he would say much worse things about this president we’re talking about, don’t we?

Especially when that president called for a settlement freeze that “more than any other action, could create the confidence needed for wider participation in these talks”; when he threatened a reluctant Israeli prime minister in an official letter that “the relationship between our two countries is at stake”; when the same Israeli prime minister – that this president couldn’t stand, by the way – is forced to ask why the US is treating Israel as if it was a “banana republic”; when this Administration’s secretary of defense doesn’t veil his criticism of Israel before a pro-Israeli crowd at the Saban Forum, like Leon Panetta did this week, but actually tells Congress in open session that the Israeli leader “is not a moderate”; or when the White House spokesman – Marlin Fitzwater, for God’s sake – says that the Israeli “occupation” actually “damages the self-respect and world opinion of the Israeli people.”

I mean, if Ambassador Gutman should be tarred, feathered and sacked for saying that the Middle East conflict fuels Muslim anti-Semitism, what should one do with a White House that is openly providing ammunition to the boycotters and the delegitimizers? And what would all the piqued pundits and bristling bloggers who scribed this week that the words of Panetta and Gutman along with Hillary Clinton’s off-the-record concern for Israel’s democracy prove the Obama Administration’s animosity towards Israel – what would they have to say about an Administration that often spoke to Israel with all the subtlety of Tony Soprano holding a sledgehammer in his hand?

And finally – and this is where we really enter the Twilight Zone, I admit – imagine if this president not only never once visited Israel, despite being eight years in office, but he even balked at visiting a concentration camp, as Obama did after his speech in Cairo. You want to know why? Because – take a deep breath – because the Germans “feel that they have a guilt feeling that’s been imposed upon them.” Poor things.

But wait, I’m not finished yet. So where does this president insist on going, despite overwhelming Jewish objections and an emotional last-minute appeal by Elie Wiesel in the name of Holocaust survivors? To lay a wreath at a ceremony commemorating the memory of the soldiers of the Waffen SS, a Nazi unit designated as a criminal organization at the Nuremberg trials, whose soldiers committed countless war crimes, including the razing of the Warsaw Ghetto, and murdered hundreds of thousands of Jews. And what does this president, this American idol of Republican conservatives, this righteous gentile of right-wing Jews, what does he have to say about these Nazi war criminals? That “they were victims just as surely as the victims in the concentration camps.”

NOW, SERIOUSLY, can you even begin to imagine what mayhem would break out if Obama would say such an insensitive, obtuse and borderline Holocaust-denying sentence? Can you picture the earthquake of rage and the tsunami of venom that would spontaneously and simultaneously erupt and sweep forth all the way from Fox News through Newt Gingrich to Pamela Geller? Is it far-fetched to imagine that America would actually grind to a halt as Republicans frantically sought a constitutional offence with which to impeach Obama and angry multitudes gathered before the White House lawn?

Ah, but Ronald Reagan, obviously, was not Obama, notwithstanding what some of Obama’s advisers once wanted you to believe. Reagan was the Gipper, the Great Communicator, the father of Reaganomics, the scourge of the Evil Empire, the great conservative revivalist who, in retrospect at least, can do no wrong. And he was a mensch, the Jews will add, because no matter what he did to Israel and how often he did it, his heart was always in the right place.

And Obama? I mean, perhaps he’s failed in other matters, but by all accounts he’s been a great help to Israel in many security -related areas, he’s supported Israel in countless international forums, and even if he has made some bad mistakes, in comparison to Reagan’s often roughshod treatment of Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir, he’s a Zionist-loving pussycat, no?

That’s when your interlocutor will look you in the eye and sigh with a mix of scorn and pity. Yes, well, he’s a kalter Fisch, you know, a cold fish, he doesn’t “feel” for Israel like Reagan did, he didn’t want a photo-op with Bibi, he bowed his head before the Saudi king, his middle name is Hussein and, well, you know. We don’t have to spell it out.

Morris Dees Calls Out Alabama’s Bigoted Republican Leadership to Their Face (VIDEO)

Standing only feet from Alabama’s GOP governor, Southern Poverty Law Center founder Morris Dees lambasted him, the state legislature and the chief justice on a range of social justice issues during a speech commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Selma-to-Montgomery March conclusion. Speaking to a crowd of thousands from the steps of the Alabama Capitol, Morris denounced lawmakers for enacting new voter restrictions, for pushing policies that lead to school re-segregation, and for their failure to extend Medicaid to low-income people in need.

 

Bibi, Birthers and my Prayer for the State of Israel

Obama as PLO agent     1269919795

For many American Jewish baby-boomers -and especially those of us born to survivors of the Shoah, reading about and watching the young Jewish State of Israel blossom into a thriving, successful democracy during the 1950’s and 60’s was an incredible source of pride and inspiration. The 1967 Six Day War proved to many of us that in spite of being surrounded by mortal enemies, Israel was fulfilling our people’s longing for a viable safe, secure haven.

The early 20th leadership of the Zionist movement and the young State of Israel inspired us to believe that the Jewish State would be guided by Jewish values and ethics and serve as a “light onto the nations.” Theodore Herzl observed, “Those of us who are today prepared to hazard our lives for the cause would regret having raised a finger, if we were able to organize only a new social system and not a more righteous one.”

One need not be a scholar of sacred Jewish texts to identify the kind of values that sustained the Jewish people for centuries and made us the defacto moral conscience of humanity. E.G.

  • B’ztlem Alokim: Remember that all people are created in the Divine Image
  • Tzedek, tzedek tirdof: Justice, justice shall you purse
  • In eight different places in the Torah, the Jewish people are reminded: You shall not wrong nor oppress a stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.
  • Ancient Jewish mystics proposed that the role of humanity in general and of the Jewish people in particular was to perform acts of Tikkun Olam, deeds that helped heal and repair a broken world.

Many in Israel and in the world Jewish community have been dismayed that such Jewish values have been put on the proverbial back-burner by the leadership of Israel in recent decades. We can’t help but look at the plight of the Arab citizens of Israel and the Palestinians living under military occupation on the West Bank for decades and wonder when did the country that was going to be a light unto the nations become guilty of the kind of oppression Israel was supposed to protect Jews from?

It is certainly no secret that the current Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu was never genuinely committed to the two-state solution that would have addressed the national yearnings of the Palestinian people. It is certainly no secret that a significant segment of the Israeli population have as a result of decades of war and terrorism turned away from noble Jewish values and allowed bigotry, racism, cynicism and anger to shape their behavior and attitudes towards their Palestinian neighbors.

The recent political partnership between the Republican Congressional leaders in the United States and the 150303114417-10-netanyahu-speech-super-169current Prime Minister of Israel was conceived in mutual disdain for the current President of the United States and mid-wifed by the finances of an Islamaphobic, desert boar who has made it clear that he has no use for democracy and would just as soon nuke-them.  As we watched Bibi and his Republican handlers film a shameless campaign commercial on the floor of the American Congress, we were left to shake our heads and wonder, what happened to the Zionist dream? When did the Zionist dream of building a just, egalitarian Jewish homeland fall off the tracks and become a train wreck where the divide between rich and poor has left 1 in 4 Israelis in poverty and peace unattainable?  When did Israelis stop electing men and women of conviction and values and replace them with demagogues who put their careers ahead of Jewish values and the needs of the nation?

Some of us had hoped that the recent Israeli elections would provide an opportunity for Israeli voters to choose a new direction. Would the reactionaries, bigots and the hawks finally be retired? Could the mantle of Israeli leadership once again be returned to people who subscribe the kind of humanistic values and genuine aspirations for peace that are taught by Jewish tradition?

Hindsight being 20/20, we should not be surprised by the despicable steps Netanyahu took to scare voters into supporting his cause in the hours before the election. This PM, who never met a policy statement he couldn’t revise, walk back or deny having ever enunciated, once again turned his back on people he doesn’t concern himself with -not to mention his own credibility. He threw 4 million Palestinians under the bus by insisting there would be no two state solution on his watch. If his appeals to anger and intolerance were not satisfied by that policy shift, Bibi threw caution and all decency to the wind by suggesting to die-hard nationalists voters that if they didn’t show up at the polls and vote for him, the Palestinian CITIZENS OF ISRAEL would have the final say on the country’s future.

The morning after the Israeli elections, I found myself despondent. If this was the will of the people of Israel, could I continue to love and support the Jewish state under Bibi’s rule? Can I support a Jewish homeland that denies citizenship to millions of people while claiming it is a democracy? Can I still love and take pride in a country that chooses such unscrupulous, reckless leaders?

marquee-2That same morning, I came upon yet another video making the rounds on the net of a die-hard Obama hater at a red-state town hall meeting decrying the fact that Republicans in Congress had failed in their responsibilities as elected leaders by not removing that alien, socialist dictator sitting in the White House. I also came upon a blog penned by one of my Jewish sisters in Israel, Paula Stern.

Pondering her comments helped me out of my morose.  My values and convictions are still worth fighting for and I’m not going to surrender them to proponents of values that are anathema to Judaism. Allow me to share a critical paragraph from Stern’s missive entitled, Israel’s Message to Obama that speaks to me in the same vitriolic, intolerant verbiage of American bigots and birthers:

“….even now, as they are counting the final votes, there are two very clear messages that have come out of this election: The first, by far, is a message to Obama – don’t mess with us; don’t mess with our democracy. By far, the loudest sound heard from Israel this morning is the sound of Israel spitting in Obama’s face and if that seems too crude, too graphic a message, I’ll remind you that this is what Obama has been doing to Israel for weeks as he mobilized dozens of campaign workers to fight Netanyahu for the will of the Israeli people. We answered. Good Lord, did we answer and for that alone, I am very proud this morning.”

Is Bibi Netanyahu the product of the Paula Sterns of Israel or is Paula Stern the product of the insidious, cynical, fear mongering rhetoric of her Prime Minister?  There is a battle underway the world over. It is battle between people of hope and people suffering from the cancer of anger and intolerance. It is a battle between those who genuinely believe that tribalism and war are inevitable and those who believe humanity can do better.  It is battle between people who believe war is as natural to the human condition as breathing and those who believe that reasonable, genuinely peace loving civilized people can and must find common ground for co-existence. It is a battle between people whose belief in the equality of every person on this Earth is not diminished by disagreements, tribal loyalties or religious beliefs and those who dehumanize those they deem as their enemies.

For decades now I have recited the Prayer for the State of Israel everyday. What I envisage when I recite that prayer is apparently not the same vision of a Jewish homeland as the bigots and tribalist on the Israeli right and those in the Jewish Diaspora who need to believe that Israel can do no wrong and anyone who questions or criticizes Israel is either an anti-Semite or self-hating Jew.  I’d like to think that my Prayer for the State of Israel extols the same values and ideals for Midnat Yisrael that made Herzel, Ben Gurion, Meir, Begin, Rabin and Peres the remarkable, accomplished leaders that they were.

Rock and Redeemer of the People Israel,  Forgive us for too often allowing self-interest, fear and prejudice to guide our judgment.prayerforisrael-conservative

Bless the State of Israel with its promise of redemption. We seek redemption from not only threats of war and hate but from the destructive anger we too often experience from being the victims of hate and violence.

Shield it with Your love; spread over it the shelter of Your peace. As we seek your forgiveness for our sins and short-comings as human beings, give us the capacity to show compassion and forgiveness to those with whom we have struggled for so long. Help both Jews and Arabs in Your Holy Land to recognize each others humanity and turn from being enemies into being neighbors of mutual respect and good will.

Guide its leaders and advisers with Your light and Your truth. Help them with Your good counsel. Inspire the leadership of Israel to place the values you taught us in Torah above political self-interest and expediency. Help us to mentor and promote future leaders who will lead by inspiration and not fear, by courageous words from the heart and not the rhetoric of fear and cynicism.

Strengthen the hands of those who defend our Holy Land and crown their efforts with triumph. May we come to realize that the State of Israel needs both, a strong military to defend itself against those who seek its destruction and citizen soldiers and citizens who recognize that their own capacity for empathy, kindess and forgiveness will always be the most powerful resources the Jewish State and call upon to ultimately achieve peace.

Bless the Land with peace and inhabitants with joy. Help the people and leadership of the State of Israel to realize that peace will not come about by prayer or magic from above but by our adhering to those fundamental Torah values of justice and love that have nurtured and sustained the House of Israel for centuries.

And let us say: Amen

A 4.5 Billion Year Old Resident of Earth Has a Message for Us (VIDEOS)

Australia blog about climate change science media coverage : Anti-carbon tax protesters in Canberra     greenpeacecarlson

As I watched these 2 videos I realized that the true believers, the real people of faith are those who understand that the Earth doesn’t cdn-media-nationaljournal-combelong to humanity alone but to the Ribbono Shel Olom, the Master of the Universe.  Who are the real heretics? Those who refuse to partner with God in protecting the environment.  And please don’t spray perfume on a skunk by responding that you believe in God but you reject the idea that humanity in negatively impacting the climate.  You’re only fooling yourself with that bit of disingenuous self-serving subterfuge.

Those who allow money, greed and self-interest to shape their values, prejudices and decision partneringmaking, forfeit their right to think of themselves as a good Christian, a good Jew, a good Muslim, etc.  True faith is about caring about something or someone more other than yourself.

 

Is this video “typical” of what has been happening to glaciers throughout history?  No.  This is the product of human-made global warming.

This Is What Treason Looks Like

Forty seven Republican Senators sent a letter to the government of Iran that ostensibly said, we don’t give a damn what our President and State Department accomplish in negotiating with you, we have the final word.

If you still think that all the efforts to embarrass and denigrate Barack Obama are simply based on “differences of opinion,” you’re probably part of the problem. What other President in American history has been subjected to this kinds of treatment by the political opposition?

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Statement by the Vice President on the March 9th Letter From Republican Senators to the Islamic Republic of Iran

I served in the United States Senate for thirty-six years. I believe deeply in its traditions, in its value as an institution, and in its indispensable constitutional role in the conduct of our foreign policy. The letter sent on March 9th by forty-seven Republican Senators to the Islamic Republic of Iran, expressly designed to undercut a sitting President in the midst of sensitive international negotiations, is beneath the dignity of an institution I revere.

This letter, in the guise of a constitutional lesson, ignores two centuries of precedent and threatens to undermine the ability of any future American President, whether Democrat or Republican, to negotiate with other nations on behalf of the United States. Honorable people can disagree over policy. But this is no way to make America safer or stronger.

Around the world, America’s influence depends on its ability to honor its commitments. Some of these are made in international agreements approved by Congress. However, as the authors of this letter must know, the vast majority of our international commitments take effect without Congressional approval. And that will be the case should the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, China, and Germany reach an understanding with Iran. There are numerous similar cases. The recent U.S.-Russia framework to remove chemical weapons from Syria is only one recent example. Arrangements such as these are often what provide the protections that U.S. troops around the world rely on every day. They allow for the basing of our forces in places like Afghanistan. They help us disrupt the proliferation by sea of weapons of mass destruction. They are essential tools to the conduct of our foreign policy, and they ensure the continuity that enables the United States to maintain our credibility and global leadership even as Presidents and Congresses come and go.

Since the beginning of the Republic, Presidents have addressed sensitive and high-profile matters in negotiations that culminate in commitments, both binding and non-binding, that Congress does not approve. Under Presidents of both parties, such major shifts in American foreign policy as diplomatic recognition of the People’s Republic of China, the resolution of the Iran hostage crisis, and the conclusion of the Vietnam War were all conducted without Congressional approval.

In thirty-six years in the United States Senate, I cannot recall another instance in which Senators wrote directly to advise another country—much less a longtime foreign adversary— that the President does not have the constitutional authority to reach a meaningful understanding with them. This letter sends a highly misleading signal to friend and foe alike that that our Commander-in-Chief cannot deliver on America’s commitments—a message that is as false as it is dangerous.

The decision to undercut our President and circumvent our constitutional system offends me as a matter of principle. As a matter of policy, the letter and its authors have also offered no viable alternative to the diplomatic resolution with Iran that their letter seeks to undermine.

There is no perfect solution to the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear program. However, a diplomatic solution that puts significant and verifiable constraints on Iran’s nuclear program represents the best, most sustainable chance to ensure that America, Israel, and the world will never be menaced by a nuclear-armed Iran. This letter is designed to convince Iran’s leaders not to reach such an understanding with the United States.

The author of this letter has been explicit that he is seeking to take any action that will end President Obama’s diplomatic negotiations with Iran. But to what end? If talks collapse because of Congressional intervention, the United States will be blamed, leaving us with the worst of all worlds. Iran’s nuclear program, currently frozen, would race forward again. We would lack the international unity necessary just to enforce existing sanctions, let alone put in place new ones. Without diplomacy or increased pressure, the need to resort to military force becomes much more likely—at a time when our forces are already engaged in the fight against ISIL.

The President has committed to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. He has made clear that no deal is preferable to a bad deal that fails to achieve this objective, and he has made clear that all options remain on the table. The current negotiations offer the best prospect in many years to address the serious threat posed by Iran’s nuclear ambitions. It would be a dangerous mistake to scuttle a peaceful resolution, especially while diplomacy is still underway.

 

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