Tuesday, June 18, 2024

A Trebuchet Is

Not A Catapult: You can tell the difference by the sound it makes when it is fired: Whoosh. A catapult, on the other hand, goes Boing.


The website TimeRef.com offers a more complete description.

The trebuchet was a wooden siege engine designed to destroy castle walls by throwing large rocks at them. 

The engine was constructed using a sturdy base, a long throwing arm and a bucket to hold weights. The projectile was connected by a rope to the end of the throwing arm while the bucket at the other end of the arm was filled with a heavy material. 

The arm was winched down lifting the bucket into the air and secured in place while the projectile was attached. The projectile rested on a flat piece of wood. The projectile was connected to the arm and the firing mechanism released. 

The weight of the bucket brought the other end of the arm down and sent the projectile flying into the air. At the top of the arc the projectile was released and sent speeding to hit the castle wall. 


The direction of the projectile could be controlled by moving it left and right on the board. 

The distance could be controlled by altering the shape of the release pin on the end of the arm, the amount of weight in the bucket or the weight of the projectile itself.


Trebuchets came in many shapes and sizes, some having wheels so they could be moved around the siege landscape. 

Trebuchet Kit

Trebuchets were built as kits that could be assembled and disassembled and transported in sections to where they were needed. All the pieces slotted together and were fixed with wooden or metal pegs.

Rocks were not the only things that were thrown by trebuchets. 

  • It was common to throw urns filled with flammable material into the castle where many of the buildings were made of wood. The urn had a lit fuse that would have ignited the material when the urn broke. 
  • Dead animals were another type of projectile thrown into castles. Animals that were diseased were preferred as they could spread disease if they landed in the castle's water source.

Being constructed of wood made trebuchets vunerable to attack by fire and had to be protected from this danger.

Now, if you're a former engineer like Abq Jew - first of all, his condolences. Life in the high-technology mines of Silicon Valley, TPC (The Phone Company), and Big Pharma, Abq Jew recalls, was nothing - absolutely nothing - like Workin' In the Coal Mine. Or like Workin' On a Chain Gang.

One of the perpetual residual effects of an engineering career, it appears, is a fascination with, you should certainly not excuse the expression in our current anti-science climate ... 

The Way Things Work
The Way Things Work

Which fascination is more than shared, Abq Jew is happy to report, by the Israel Defense Forces and (see January's Building The Iron Beam) the entire robust Israeli defense industry. 

Israeli Trebuchet

In fact, NBC News (et al) reports:

Israeli troops use medieval-style trebuchet weapon in fighting at Lebanon border

A trebuchet is a medieval siege weapon made of wood with a long arm that, when released, catapults a projectile — in this case, a fireball — at its target.

TEL AVIV — Israeli troops stationed on the Lebanese border fired a medieval-style siege weapon known as a trebuchet amid recent fighting against Hezbollah militants, an Israeli military official confirmed to NBC News.  

Video of the weapon hurling a fireball emerged Thursday, sparking equal measures of confusion and amusement in Israel, even as Israeli troops and Hezbollah were locked in some of the most intense fighting of the war. 

The six-second video shows Israeli troops looking on as the trebuchet — which largely disappeared from the battlefield in the 15th century — fires a flaming projectile over a fortified wall. One soldier is seen holding a fire extinguisher in case something were to go awry.  

An Israeli military official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly, said the weapon is not part of the IDF’s standard arsenal and is believed to have been built by reservist soldiers stationed on the border.  

Am Yisrael Chai

Thursday, June 13, 2024

The People’s Commencement

At ColumbiaIt’s 1968 all over again, as New York Ivy Leaguers flip the script and stage an unofficial counter-graduation ceremony at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.

People's Commencement
Illustration by João Fazenda

Thus begins Andrew Marantz's On Campus article in the June 3, 2024 issue of The New Yorker. As a graduate of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, Abq Jew finds this article very upsetting.

And rather than attempt to summarize it, Abq Jew here presents to you, his loyal readers, the whole thing - in complete violation of an entire plethora of US copyright laws, UN resolutions, and international conventions. 

Please, copyright lawyers, consider this fair use - or even a free promotion! And stay tuned for a (brief) discussion at the end.

The New Yorker June 3, 2024

On Campus

The People’s Commencement at Columbia

It’s 1968 all over again, as New York Ivy Leaguers flip the script
and stage an unofficial counter-graduation ceremony
at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.

By Andrew Marantz
May 25, 2024

In the spring of 1968, after a series of antiwar demonstrations and a police raid on Columbia’s campus, protesters ended the semester with a “counter-commencement.” “while columbia dances its obscene ceremony,” a flyer read, “we will open a liberation school for all people.” 

At the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, the historian Richard Hofstadter gave the official commencement address; hundreds of students walked out in protest and marched a few blocks north to an alternative graduation ceremony, where the writer Dwight Macdonald and others delivered remarks on the library steps. 

“While I find your strike and your sit-ins productive, I don’t think these tactics can be used indefinitely without doing more damage than good to the university,” Macdonald said.

This spring, during another series of antiwar demonstrations and student arrests at Columbia, a group of sympathetic faculty and staff organized another counter-commencement. 

“We looked through the historical archives for inspiration,” Manu Karuka, a professor of American studies at Barnard, said. “We even used a font reminiscent of the ’68 program.” 

The 2024 program featured a drawing of a red poppy, a symbol of Palestinian resistance, above the words “The People’s Graduation: A Gathering for Peace and Justice.” 

A supplementary handout included a list of Barnard’s “distrustees,” along with top Columbia administrators and their e-mail addresses, and an acknowledgment in fine print: “This shitshow would not have been possible without these cruel and incompetent people.”

The locations were flipped this year. The counter-commencement was held at St. John the Divine, whose clergy had offered it to the university community as a sanctuary. (Columbia’s main graduation was supposed to take place in the middle of campus, until, at the last minute, it was cancelled.) 

Ilan Cohen, who was graduating with a dual degree from Columbia and the Jewish Theological Seminary, started the day at a small J.T.S. ceremony, where attendees sang both the American and the Israeli national anthems and Wolf Blitzer gave the commencement speech (“You stand at a crossroads in American history, and Jewish history”). 

Afterward, Cohen, who had participated in the student encampment, walked briskly toward the cathedral, wearing a robin’s-egg-blue robe and a beet-red yarmulke. He carried three pins—“Columbia Jews for Ceasefire,” “JTS Jews for Ceasefire,” and “Not in My Name”—and deliberated over which to wear. “No pins, I’m sorry,” a volunteer usher said. “Church rules.” The rules failed to prevent posters, banners, or slogans on mortarboards (“Free Palestine”; “Student Intifada”; “Glory to the Class of 2024 of Gaza”). 

Someone handed Cohen a parody newspaper called the New York War Crimes—the “Nakba Day Edition” (“All the Consent That’s Fit to Manufacture”). As Cohen looked for a seat, he ran into Frank Guridy, a history professor with whom he had taken a course called Columbia 1968. They posed for a photo, and Guridy asked about Cohen’s plans. “Haven’t had a second to think about it,” he said.

The actress and comedian Amanda Seales, a Columbia alum, was the m.c. “Today, in the spirit of 1968, we gather in what gentrifiers call Morningside Heights but the real ones know is Harlem,” she began. A full cathedral—a few dozen faculty and special guests onstage, a few hundred students in the pews—cheered. 

Seales introduced Randa Jarrar, a Palestinian American writer and activist. “In 1799, Napoleon invaded Palestine,” Jarrar said, then led the audience in a chant: “We defeated Napoleon!” “We are defeating Israel!” “We defeated Columbia!” “We are dismantling this empire!” 

A Palestinian American poet named Fady Joudah read a poem called “Dedication,” fighting back tears; Noura Erakat, a human-rights lawyer, told the students, “You have taught us well—in your sacrifice, in your courage, in your ingenuity.” A few backpack-wearing cathedral tourists took photos in chastened silence, then quickly left.

To close out the ceremony, Seales introduced a band called the Liberated Zone, “a ragtag collective of musically inclined radicals, scholars, and truthtellers who met while jamming at the Gaza Solidarity Encampment.” 

Six musicians, half of them barefoot, performed a two-chord folk song based on a verse from the Book of Ruth. Then the grads marched out, applauded by faculty waiting on the steps. Clumps of students stood chatting about summer plans and upcoming disciplinary hearings, or breaking into brief chants (“Disclose! Divest! We will not stop, we will not rest”). 

A Barnard professor invited Cohen to join her protest singing group, Voices of Witness. Cohen had been part of a “pluralistic Jewish a-cappella group,” he said, “and this was the year we really had to figure out what pluralism meant.”

“How’d that go?” the professor asked.

“Well,” Cohen said, “we just had to appoint two students to be mediators next year, if that gives you an idea.” ♦

How Gonna Work

Abq Jew sadly admits he doesn't have
the foggiest idea how that is gonna work.

Gonna Work

Not to pick on Ilan Cohen - it's not just him! -
but you would think that Jewish day school learning,
an Ivy League education, plus studies at JTS
would add up to more than this.
But you'd be wrong.

Under the Bus

Even (Especially?) after the hostages' rescue on Shabbat,
the American Jewish community has been soundly
kicked under the bus. It's not just that many of our
former friends, colleagues, and allies have abandoned us -
they've actively turned against us and joined
with those who seek our destruction. 

What wrong

Yes, our Jewish history offers parallels to what is happening
all around us. But we've just celebrated Shavuot.
Let's try to stay happy.

Do Not Despair

Thursday, June 6, 2024

Remembering the Days

Remembering The Weeks: As Abq Jew ® first noted thirteen (13!) years ago (wow! like it was yesterday!) in  A Murder of Crows:


Several thousand years ago, all Jews then living, all Jews ever born, and all Jews ever to be born gathered beneath Mount Sinai to hear God speak to us. 

We celebrate this wondrous event every year on the Holiday of Shavuot, the Feast of Weeks, exactly forty-nine full days (which are, as we know now, seven full weeks) after the Holiday of Pesach.

And we recongregate to celebrate Shavuot just one week after we all celebrated Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day) ...

... and just 10 days after Jewish New Yorkers joined October 7 hostage families for the Israel Day Parade.

Ten Commandments

Shavuot (שבועות‎) occurs on the sixth day of the
Hebrew month of Sivan. This year, Shavuot begins
on the evening of Tuesday, June 11.The festival days
are Wednesday and Thursday, June 12-13.

D-Day Army

As we remember what our fathers fought for
and honor their sacrifice ...

To the rule of law

Happy Shavuot!

We will dance again ....

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

The Jews Are Coming

Never Again All Over Again: It's a short week, thanks to the Memorial Day holiday, which marks the unofficial start of summer, which (as we all know) doesn't officially start until June 20th. 

Memorial Day (of course) officially signifies our nation's unrepayable debt to those who gave their lives for our freedom. As President Biden recently stated:

When they died, and they gave up two lives — the one they were living and the one they would have lived. And all we can do is remember.

Jews all over the world have recently observed Holocaust Remembrance Day - the price we paid for not having a State of Israel. With Israel, we have also recently observed its Memorial Day - the cost we pay for having a State of Israel - and rejoiced on our Israel's Independence Day.

Which leads Abq Jew to remind us all that -

HaYehudim Baim

היהודים באים  The Jews Are Coming

IMDb presents The Jews Are Coming as 

A satirical Israeli television series of sketches about the history of the Jewish people, from biblical times to present day.

Wikipedia tells us

The Jews Are Coming (Hebrew: היהודים באים, Hayehudim Ba'im) is an Israeli satirical television series. 

Each episode consists of several sketches on subjects ranging from Biblical stories, to Jewish Diaspora and Zionist history and Israeli current affairs, with occasional pop culture references ....

But Lior Zaltzman, Deputy Managing Editor of Kveller, tells the whole storyAbq Jew, on the other hand, does not - so he urges you, his faithful readers, to click here.

This Israeli Sketch Really Gets at Post-October 7 Intergenerational Trauma

The comedy show "The Jews Are Coming" revisited Jewish horrors from history to share a message about Jewish resilience.

“The Jews Are Coming,” an Israeli satire and comedy show known for its hilarious and poignant sketches about tales from Jewish history (think Mel Brooks’ “A History of the World: Part II” but with only real historical figures and exclusively Jewish), broke a nine year and six season tradition this week by airing a sketch that was not meant to illicit even one measly peal of laughter.

Instead, in its first sketch since October 7, the cast of the show and one special guest perfectly illustrated what October 7 felt like for many of us — a reactivation of centuries of Jewish intergenerational trauma.


In the harrowing clip, which has English subtitles, actors share their testimonies from traumatic events throughout Jewish history — the burning of the Second Temple in Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 BCE; the first crusade in 1096 Cologne; the pogrom of Kishinev in 1903; the Hebron massacre of 1929; Kristallnacht in 1938 Berlin; the Farhud massacre that decimated Baghdad’s Jewish community; and finally, October 7 in Kfar Aza, a community that lost over 100 people when Hamas attacked that day.

 Lior Katzman (click here) continues:

That sketch was not the only one from the new episode meant to comfort a nation and a people in the aftermath of October 7. They return to a sketch about the Golden Calf, in which Moses derides the Jewish people for building the idol. 
In this new number, Moses apologizes to the Israeli people for calling them “shitheads,” and talks about how he saw the people of Israel come together to help each other, to pick up produce from abandoned fields, and how they fought for and were there for each other. 
“You’re a great people… you’re not shitheads, but you’re a people that has to deal with lots of shit,” he says. 
He calls on the people of Israel to decide if they’re “a generation of destruction or of rebuilding,” saying future generations are looking at them (and past generations too, if only because they don’t have Netflix and nothing else to watch).

“I survived Pharaoh,” he says,
“you can survive this.”

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Winnemucca at 3 AM

Cheyenne for Shavuos: About 50 years ago - in May 1974 - Abq Jew left his parents' home in Sunnyvale, California (see December 2021's Joseph Dreams), stepped onto a Greyhound bus in San Francisco, and headed for Reno, Nevada - the first stop on his journey eastward to his homeland - Brooklyn, New York.


You see, Abq Jew (long before he became Abq Jew) longed to complete his Jewish education. To study, to learn, to grow Jewishly - more than was possible in those days in Northern California.

Boston! Boston was the place where real, live Judaism was happening. Young Jews were forming chavurot, Jewish catalogs were being written, published, and read. Everyone said that Boston was the place to be. Nevertheless -

Abq Jew set out for ... Brooklyn.
He had mishpacha there. And so -

Fifty years au go-go. Abq Jew spent a few hours in downtown Reno, where he watched with sad chagrin as mostly working-class people fed their hard-earned money into the mouths of machines that, collectively, never give back.

Then Abq Jew was again riding the Greyhound, heading now to Salt Lake City. With a stop in the glorious (really!) Winnemucca at 3 AM.

Mormon Temple

You may be aware that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (aka Mormonism) is the most popular religion in Salt Lake City (in particular) and the State of Utah (generally).

You may not be aware that (well, way back then) the second-most popular religion in said region was ... wait for it ... Judaism! Abq Jew does not know why this is/was so, except that - hey, why not? 

We Jews find Judaism - not really an organized religion - interesting. Why shouldn't everybody? And if the competition (so to speak) is the most strictly organized religion in the world ... ?

Anyway - Abq Jew got off the bus in Salt Lake City and strolled on over to the local Hillel (then, as he recalls, close to the Temple), where Abq Jew figured he'd hang out for a few days. 

Which he did. Made new friends, fit right into the community, had a wonderful time. But Denver and Brooklyn were calling.


So here's the thing about travelling from Salt Lake City to Denver. There are basically two ways to go.
  1. Just continue on good old Interstate 80, just like you have been. A slightly roundabout but nevertheless more direct route that takes you through Cheyenne, Wyoming - an added benefit.
  2. Switch to Interstate 70, upon which you ain't never travelled. Go to Denver but hardly directly, following all those squiggly mountain curves, dips, and bends.

Which is where John Denver enters the picture. His 1972 hit Rocky Mountain High captured Abq Jew's own youthful wanderlust, his eagerness to see those Rocky Mountains and, indeed, all of America. 

After all - that's why Abq Jew was on the Greyhound.

After closely (but not nearly closely enough) examining the maps, Abq Jew decided to take the northern, less squiggly, more direct route, through Wyoming. Southern Wyoming. Cheyenne.


As it turns out, Wyoming has plenty of big, tall, gorgeous mountains. But they're not John Denver's Rocky Mountains, and they're not - as Abq Jew sadly and quickly came to realize - to be found along I-80. Southern Wyoming, as it turns out, is mostly high plateau. 

Those Rocky Mountains looked highly and stunningly beautiful as Abq Jew - sitting on the right (southern) side of the Greyhound - observed them from a distance. A great distance.


And then Abq Jew was in Cheyenne.

When Abq Jew stepped off the Greyhound on Sunday, May 26, 1974, he was greeted by - as usual? no, even more so! - almost no one. That was because, among other factors, it was the Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend. All of Cheyenne was rodeoing out of town. There was nobody home.

Except for The Jews.

Shavuot Mountain

It was Erev Shavuos.

On Memorial Day 1974, Shavuot 5734, Abq Jew shlepped to - where else? - shul. Where else would a Jew be on Shavuos? In this case, the best (only?) synagogue in town was (fittingly named)

Mt Sinai Cheyenne

Mount Sinai of Cheyenne

Now, for those of you who have not been and who therefore may not know, Mount Sinal today says of itself (on its Membership page):

Mt. Sinai is more than a Synagogue.  It’s a family, and we want you to join us.  Welcome home!

Our members come from a variety of backgrounds and lifestyles, but we all share a deep sense of friendship, community, and a love of Judaism ... Our diversity and strong community feelings are evident at every gathering and meeting, making Mt. Sinai a fun and dynamic environment.

We are both a synagogue and the Jewish community center of Cheyenne. We encourage you to participate in the life of Mt. Sinai as you consider membership. There’s always something going on at our Synagogue.

Welcoming as Mount Sinai is today - 50 years ago, in 1974, it was even more so. Abq Jew fit right in, joining the congregation for Akdamut, the Torah and Haftarah readings, and the full Shavuos prayers.

And after the service? Seeing that Abq Jew was a single guy, travelling across America, who cared enough to take the time to stop off and daven Shavuos at Mount Sinai, the Rabbi invited Abq Jew to have lunch with him and his family.

Abq Jew - like a complete ingrate idiot - begged off,
explaining to the Rabbi that Denver and Brooklyn were calling.

Tevye's Daughters

Sometime later, Abq Jew was to learn that the Rabbi, whose name Abq Jew cannot recall (and the Mount Sinai webpage doesn't go back that far) - the Rabbi had four daughters, one (or more) of whom was of marriageable age.


But Abq Jew's bashert
was waiting ... in Brooklyn.

Who knew? Not Mr & Mrs Abq Jew!

To be continued

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Yes, In Our Name!

The Song and the Letters: Yes, there have been good happenings this week. Not a lot of them - especially when compared to the slew of bad happenings this week - but Abq Jew says we'll take what we can get.

And keep fighting for what we deserve.

Eden Golan

First among those happenings we'll take is, of course, the splendid showing of Israel's wonderful Eden Golan in this year's Eurovision competition, held in Malmo, Sweden.

Eurovision officials and angry attendees did almost everything possible to silence her voice - including altering the title (October Rain became Hurricane) and lyrics to her song.

October Hurricane

After being booed and bullied, after receiving too many hateful messages on her social media. Eden Golan had to be escorted to the Eurovision venue by armored police cars and dozens of police officers.

And yet she stood there on the Eurovision stage - in front of the whole world - and sang. Twenty years old, with the strength and courage of a lioness. 


Thanks to support from the 'Rest of the World', Israel was able to achieve 5th place in the Eurovision competition. An entirely respectable result. Eden Golan returned to Israel with her head held high.

But wait there's more
From Jewish Students at Columbia University

Columbia Jewish Students

Sharon Otterman of The New York Times recently reported:
In Letter, 540 Jewish Columbia Students Defend Zionism, Condemn Protests

The students wrote that “Zionism remains a pillar of our Jewish identities” and argued that many classmates do not understand its meaning.

A group of Jewish Columbia students has written an emotional and forceful public letter that takes on one of the most divisive issues on college campuses: whether opposition to Israel should be equated with antisemitism.

In the letter, the students argue that “Judaism cannot be separated from Israel.” They also charge that anti-Zionist Jews who deny Israel’s right to exist and stand with pro-Palestinian protesters “tokenize themselves” and try to delegitimize the experiences of Zionist Jews on campus.

Excellent. ICYMI - here is the letter

In Our Name:
A Message from Jewish Students at Columbia University

To the Columbia Community:

Over the past six months, many have spoken in our name. Some are well-meaning alumni or non-affiliates who show up to wave the Israeli flag outside Columbia’s gates. Some are politicians looking to use our experiences to foment America’s culture war. Most notably, some are our Jewish peers who tokenize themselves by claiming to represent “real Jewish values,” and attempt to delegitimize our lived experiences of antisemitism. 

We are here, writing to you as Jewish students at Columbia University, who are connected to our community and deeply engaged with our culture and history. We would like to speak in our name.

Many of us sit next to you in class. We are your lab partners, your study buddies, your peers, and your friends. We partake in the same student government, clubs, Greek life, volunteer organizations, and sports teams as you.

Most of us did not choose to be political activists. We do not bang on drums and chant catchy slogans. We are average students, just trying to make it through finals much like the rest of you. Those who demonize us under the cloak of anti-Zionism forced us into our activism and forced us to publicly defend our Jewish identities.

We proudly believe in the Jewish People’s right to self-determination in our historic homeland as a fundamental tenet of our Jewish identity. 

Contrary to what many have tried to sell you – no, Judaism cannot be separated from Israel. Zionism is, simply put, the manifestation of that belief.

Our religious texts are replete with references to Israel, Zion, and Jerusalem. The land of Israel is filled with archaeological remnants of a Jewish presence spanning centuries. Yet, despite generations of living in exile and diaspora across the globe, the Jewish People never ceased dreaming of returning to our homeland — Judea, the very place from which we derive our name, “Jews.” 

Indeed just a couple of days ago, we all closed our Passover seders with the proclamation, “Next Year in Jerusalem!”

Many of us are not religiously observant, yet Zionism remains a pillar of our Jewish identities. We have been kicked out of Russia, Libya, Ethiopia, Yemen, Afghanistan, Poland, Egypt, Algeria, Germany, Iran, and the list goes on. 

We connect to Israel not only as our ancestral homeland but as the only place in the modern world where Jews can safely take ownership of their own destiny. Our experiences at Columbia in the last six months are a poignant reminder of just that.

We were raised on stories from our grandparents of concentration camps, gas chambers, and ethnic cleansing. The essence of Hitler’s antisemitism was the very fact that we were “not European” enough, that as Jews we were threats to the “superior” Aryan race. This ideology ultimately left six million of our own in ashes.

The evil irony of today’s antisemitism is a twisted reversal of our Holocaust legacy; protestors on campus have dehumanized us, imposing upon us the characterization of the “white colonizer.” 

We have been told that we are “the oppressors of all brown people” and that “the Holocaust wasn’t special.” Students at Columbia have chanted “we don’t want no Zionists here,” alongside “death to the Zionist State” and to “go back to Poland,” where our relatives lie in mass graves.

This sick distortion illuminates the nature of antisemitism: In every generation, the Jewish People are blamed and scapegoated as responsible for the societal evil of the time. 

  • In Iran and in the Arab world, we were ethnically cleansed for our presumed ties to the “Zionist entity.” 
  • In Russia, we endured state-sponsored violence and were ultimately massacred for being capitalists. 
  • In Europe, we were the victims of genocide because we were communists and not European enough. 

And today, we face the accusation of being too European, painted as society’s worst evils – colonizers and oppressors. We are targeted for our belief that Israel, our ancestral and religious homeland, has a right to exist. We are targeted by those who misuse the word Zionist as a sanitized slur for Jew, synonymous with racist, oppressive, or genocidal. 

We know all too well that antisemitism is shapeshifting.

We are proud of Israel. The only democracy in the Middle East, Israel is home to millions of Mizrachi Jews (Jews of Middle Eastern descent), Ashkenazi Jews (Jews of Central and Eastern European descent), and Ethiopian Jews, as well as millions of Arab Israelis, over one million Muslims, and hundreds of thousands of Christians and Druze. 

Israel is nothing short of a miracle for the Jewish People and for the Middle East more broadly.

Our love for Israel does not necessitate blind political conformity. It’s quite the opposite. 

For many of us, it is our deep love for and commitment to Israel that pushes us to object when its government acts in ways we find problematic. Israeli political disagreement is an inherently Zionist activity; look no further than the protests against Netanyahu’s judicial reforms – from New York to Tel Aviv – to understand what it means to fight for the Israel we imagine. 

All it takes are a couple of coffee chats with us to realize that our visions for Israel differ dramatically from one another. Yet we all come from a place of love and an aspiration for a better future for Israelis and Palestinians alike.

If the last six months on campus have taught us anything, it is that a large and vocal population of the Columbia community does not understand the meaning of Zionism, and subsequently does not understand the essence of the Jewish People. 

Yet despite the fact that we have been calling out the antisemitism we’ve been experiencing for months, our concerns have been brushed off and invalidated. 

So here we are to remind you:

  • We sounded the alarm on October 12 when many protested against Israel while our friends’ and families’ dead bodies were still warm.
  • We recoiled when people screamed “resist by any means necessary,” telling us we are “all inbred” and that we “have no culture.”
  • We shuddered when an “activist” held up a sign telling Jewish students they were Hamas’s next targets, and we shook our heads in disbelief when Sidechat users told us we were lying.
  • We ultimately were not surprised when a leader of the CUAD encampment said publicly and proudly that “Zionists don’t deserve to live” and that we’re lucky they are “not just going out and murdering Zionists.”
  • We felt helpless when we watched students and faculty physically block Jewish students from entering parts of the campus we share, or even when they turned their faces away in silence. This silence is familiar. We will never forget.

One thing is for sure.
We will not stop standing up for ourselves.
We are proud to be Jews, and we are proud to be Zionists.   

We came to Columbia because we wanted to expand our minds and engage in complex conversations. While campus may be riddled with hateful rhetoric and simplistic binaries now, it is never too late to start repairing the fractures and begin developing meaningful relationships across political and religious divides. 

Our tradition tells us, “Love peace and pursue peace.” 

We hope you will join us in earnestly pursuing peace, truth, and empathy. Together we can repair our campus.

But wait there's more
From Jewish Students at UNM

UNM Open Letter

Nick Catlin of KOAT recently reported:
Open letter to University of New Mexico regarding antisemitism 
The letter was published to express concerns about possible actions taken to divest from Israel amid its ongoing war with Hamas

An open letter addressed to University of New Mexico administration responds to student protest demands.

It starts by stating it is responding to student protesters who demand the university divest resources from Israel. This is due to the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas since October 2023.

The letter states it is against using university resources to single out Israel. It goes on to state the proposed actions will not end the suffering in Palestine. Rather, it will increase hate and division among the campus community.

Excellent. ICYMI - here is the letter

An Open Letter
To the UNM Administration

To the UNM administration, in particular the Board of Regents and President Stokes,

This letter is a response to the student protests that demand that UNM divest from Israel in response to the war in Gaza.

Before we say anything else, let us state the obvious that the death and destruction happening in Gaza is a horrible tragedy. Far too many civilians in Gaza are suffering terribly and dying through no fault of their own. Just as much as anyone else, we want to see the violence in Gaza end. 

This letter is not a call for or against any proposed solution to the conflict in Gaza, and it is not a call against student protestors' right to freely express their opinions on campus. 

It is a statement against proposed actions that will not help end the suffering in Gaza, but instead will only serve to increase division and hatred at UNM.

Using university resources to single out Israel as a target for condemnation will not help Palestinians' cause. Instead it will be harmful for the following reasons.

The protests around campus calling for divestment from Israel are not limited to only calling for specific actions against Israel, but rather those demands are heavily intertwined with frightening calls for violence against Jews that UNM would legitimize if they accepted the protestors' demands. 

While criticism of Israel on its own does not imply antisemitism, in the case of protests on campus criticism of Israel is heavily intertwined with calls for violence against Jews. They are chanted by the same crowd one after another, and UNM must not consider them separately when planning their response.

Taken seriously, their chants call for violence that is magnitudes worse than what is happening in Gaza today. In the immediate aftermath of the October 7th attacks in which over 1000 innocent Israeli civilians were intentionally killed, protestors at UNM shouted "resistance is justified". Now they can be heard shouting "Israel out of the middle east" among other chants that explicitly deny Israel's right to exist. 

We are inclined to interpret our fellow students' statements charitably, so we like to think that they do not literally want to uproot the 7 million Jews in Israel from their homes and cause mass forced displacement and death of Jews on a scale not seen since the Holocaust, as a literal reading of their statements would suggest. Rather, we take the generous interpretation that they do not seriously think through the meaning of the words they say, that they latch onto catchphrases without critically thinking about what they are saying.

Still, it is imperative that UNM not give any credence to these dangerous, antisemitic statements that overshadow any legitimate criticisms of Israel the protestors are trying to get across, even if these statements are likely nonserious. 

Doing so would send a loud and clear message to Jewish and Israeli students, faculty, and staff at UNM, that they are not safe and not welcome here. 

This would be an especially dangerous message to send, as always, but especially now that antisemitic incidents are on the rise in Albuquerque since the October 7th attacks.

Condemnation of the violent demands of the protestors should not be taken as undermining the significance of the violence that is happening in Gaza. The death and suffering that Palestinians are experiencing every day is real and inescapable, unlike the destruction of Israel that protestors are calling for, which is thankfully just a disturbing fantasy, albeit one that many bad actors around the world sincerely and deeply desire. 

We can and should strongly condemn both the violent, antisemitic demands of protestors and the violence in Gaza.

A central purpose of UNM, and of universities in general, is to provide an environment where people from diverse backgrounds, both within the US and internationally, can come together and learn from each other and participate in scholarly activities as equals. 

It should bring us all great pride to be a part of a diverse institution like UNM where Jewish and Israeli students, and Muslim students and those from Muslim-majority countries, can be collaborators, coworkers, and friends, without politically charged and divisive actions by UNM administration looming over their day-to-day interactions.

In fact, fostering such a safe, welcoming environment where scholars from diverse international backgrounds can come together does far more to promote global peace than putting financial pressure on one side of any not-black-and-white conflict. 

When international scholars come together and work with each other at UNM, it shows everyone that the vast majority of people from any "enemy" country are regular people just like them, interested in science, art, learning, and peacefully coexisting with their neighbors, not harming anyone. 

If they go back to their home countries, their skills and high-quality education can put them in influential positions in society where their mindset can go a long ways to promote peace.

UNM should not jeopardize its most effective method to promote peace in the Middle East—bringing people from the region together as equals and as friends—by openly condemning and divesting from Israel. Instead it should strive to provide an environment where Jewish and Muslim students feel safe and welcome and able to work together.

Divesting UNM resources from only Israel as UNM's response to this conflict paints an unrealistic and harmful picture of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a black-and-white, good-versus-evil conflict. Reality is much more complicated than this simplified picture, and promoting this picture will not bring both sides closer to peaceful coexistence.

Divesting from Israel is far from the only action UNM could do to distance itself from bad actors involved in this war, and doing so would fail to promote both sides making the kinds of hard sacrifices that will need to be made to have long-term peace. 

For example, one of the many funds that UNM's endowment invests in is BlackRock's iShares MSCI ACWI ex U.S. exchange-traded fund. This fund has 0.46% of its assets invested in Israeli companies. 

It also has 0.22% of its assets invested in companies from Qatar. The government of Qatar is well-known to fund and empower Hamas, which is responsible for enormous amounts of death and suffering of Palestinians and Jews during this conflict. 

Do the students that advocate for divestment from Israel also advocate that UNM divest from Qatar? No, they do not. That's because their demands are not about taking actions that promote peaceful coexistence nor have concrete positive effects on Palestinians' lives. 

They are, charitably, about latching on to popular but misguided movements without fully understanding their undertones and consequences, and realistically, at least somewhat about antisemitism too.

UNM researchers enjoy fruitful and productive collaborations with Israeli researchers. In fact UNM and Israeli researchers are joint recipients of many research grants in subjects as diverse as plasma physics, neuroscience, and nanotechnology. 

Full divestment from Israel would necessarily mean cutting off these research programs, as they entail transferring grant money for research between UNM and Israeli institutions. 

Cutting off these important research collaborations would be a disservice to students, faculty, and any other researchers whose careers depend on being able to participate in scientific research that is the product of UNM-Israeli collaboration. 

It would also be a disservice to the public in New Mexico and beyond that benefits from the results of this research, and it would harm UNM's status as an institute where world-class scientific research takes place.

Don't listen to these students' harmful demands. Reject the calls for divestment from Israel and reject antisemitism.

UNM Hillel

Our friends at UNM Hillel have asked
us New MexiJews to sign this letter.

Click here to read and sign!

Eden Golan

Here is the Official Music Video for Hurricane:

Israel 76

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Alex Hassilev Dies at 91

The Last Limeliter: It is with great sadness that Abq Jew informs you - if you haven't yet heard -  of the passing of Alex Hassilev, the last surviving original member of The Limeliters.

The Limeliters

The Limeliters
Alex Hassilev (1932-2024), Lou Gottlieb (1923-1996),
and Glenn Yarbrough (1930-2016)

Don't remember The Limeliters? Oy! They were one of the early folk group greats, right up there with The Kingston Trio and Peter, Paul and Mary. Wikipedia reminds us:

The Limeliters are an American folk music group, formed in July 1959 by Lou Gottlieb (bass violin/bass), Alex Hassilev (banjo/baritone), and Glenn Yarbrough (guitar/tenor).
The group was active from 1959 until 1965, and then after a hiatus of sixteen years, Yarbrough, Hassilev, and Gottlieb reunited and began performing again as The Limeliters in reunion tours. 
On a regular basis a continuation of The Limeliters group is still active and performing. 
Gottlieb died in 1996 (aged 72), Yarbrough died in 2016 (aged 86), and Hassilev died in 2024 (aged 91), the last founding member, who had remained active in the group, retired in 2006, leaving the group to carry on without any of the original members.

Yes, Alex Hassilev was the banjo player. To Abq Jew, he was THE banjo player. He was pretty darn good, in the old-time long-neck (banjo) sort of way. And he had a great baritone voice.

Abq Jew looked - and couldn't find many obituaries online for Alex Hassilev. Here's from the Los Angeles Times, one of the few.

Alex Hassilev, last original member of the ’60s folk trio the Limeliters, dies at 91

Alex Hassilev, the singing, songwriting, guitar and banjo virtuoso who was the last surviving original member of 1960s folk trio the Limeliters, died of cancer April 21 at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank. He was 91.

Hassilev was the youngest member of the Limeliters, whose other original members were bassist and comic spokesman Lou Gottlieb (1923-1996) and star tenor Glenn Yarbrough (1930-2016). The band was second only to the Kingston Trio in its popularity during the peak years of the American urban folk music boom of the late 1950s and early ’60s.

After becoming a hit act at San Francisco’s fabled hungry i nightclub only two months after their formation in 1959, the Limeliters became an inescapable presence in mass media. They recorded 13 albums, appeared on television and toured as many as 310 days out of the year. Their most enduring album, “Through Children’s Eyes,” was popular among generations of children and their parents.

Hassilev’s powerful chops on banjo and guitar gave the group’s music much of its rhythmic drive, and his expertise in foreign languages — particularly in French, Portuguese and Russian — made it possible to add songs from outside American folk music to the group’s repertoire. Tall, debonair and handsome, Hassilev also was the sex symbol of the trio.

Hassilev was born in Paris on July 11, 1932, to Russian emigré parents Leonide and Tamara Hassilev. Like his colleagues in the Limeliters, he was an only child — and to one another the three musicians were probably the closest thing to brothers they ever had.

The Hassilevs were Jewish and left Paris for New York City in 1939 ahead of the Nazi occupation of France during World War II, and in Manhattan Leonide Hassilev continued his career as a civil engineer specializing in hydroelectric projects. 

Hassilev had showed early brilliance as a child, picking up new languages with ease and eventually speaking six fluently. When he came to America, he found that he was ahead of his classmates.

.   .   .

A chance listening to the Weavers’ recording of “Kisses Sweeter Than Wine” on the radio electrified him.

“I thought, goddamn, that’s the greatest thing I ever heard, and it made such an impression on me that it kindled my interest in American folk music,” he said during an interview in 1989. 

“At the time, I didn’t know any songs in English.”

Well, he soon learned.

Here is a taste of what Alex Hassilev, Lou Gottlieb, and Glenn Yarbrough were all about. We'll start with a hard-driving (you should excuse the expression), more-or-less straightforward version of the old folk song about John Henry

An African American freedman, John Henry is said to have worked as a "steel-driving man"—a man tasked with hammering a steel drill into a rock to make holes for explosives to blast the rock in constructing a railroad tunnel.

But then there was Max Goolis, and the song about him. A union man (but of course), Max Goolis is said to have worked as a "street-sweeping man"—a man who spent his whole career in the gutter, and who is recalled now for his brave battle with an automatic garbage truck.

The Limeliters, may they sing forever in Gan Eden, could never leave well enough alone. As Abq Jew has written (see August 2015's Those Were The Days), the trio took old songs and made them new. 

Or sometimes completely re-engineered them (see "Max Goolis" above.) And please, please, don't get Abq Jew started about Lou Gottlieb ....

Send in the Clowns

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

CU Later, Agitator!

Keffiyeh Karen Calls Out Columbia: There were an awful lot of awful things that happened this year during Pesach - most notably (for us in the US), the takeover and occupation of several university campuses by what our always-perceptive news media called "pro-Palestinian protestors."

But we know who they really were.

We'll talk about all that (well, some of that) later. But let's start with The Big Question that The Jerusalem Post has asked: 

The Jewish Lion
Is Musafa* Jewish?
* You know, from Disney's Lion King

Parallels between Mufasa and Jewish scripture suggest he is, the Jerusalem Post Staff recently claimed.
In Disney's "The Lion King," the animal kingdom echoes ancient Jewish tales louder than you might think. While the beloved 1994 animation is celebrated for its originality, it's hard not to notice the deep connections it shares with stories from the Torah.
And to prove it, said Staff returned us to the original 2019 Kveller article by Lior Zaltzman.

Lion King Jewish

‘The Lion King’ Is Totally Inspired
by These Jewish Biblical Figures

This is important. Musafa: The Lion King - a prequel to the 2019 remake of the original 1994 film - is scheduled to be released in December. 

And we've got to be ready.

Not Really Urgent

OK. So it's not really urgent. But those images of Jewish Lions are really nice, and give us hope for the future. 

Unlike, say, for example, the unfortunately-named

Johanna King Slutzky
Johanna King-Slutzky

Ms King-Slutzky has - again, unfortunately - achieved her Andy Warhol 15 minutes of fame by speaking to the press on the morning after some students and some others occupied Columbia University's Hamilton Hall.

During which she demanded that Columbia provide food and water to those students and others. And during which she declined to provide her name. But c'mon - the Internet (Jordan Schachtel of The Dossier) found her. 

What Ms King-Sltzky said - and, just as important, what she sounded like - is making the rounds all over the Web. Here is The New York Post's take.
Keffiyeh Karen whines for glass of water, proving pro-terror students are total weaklings

Uh, excuse me, imperialist-Zionist running dogs — could we please have a glass of water?

Sounds like a parody of leftist whining, but amazingly, it isn’t. 

A protester at Columbia University, after her pro-terror cadre broke into and occupied the school’s Hamilton Hall on Tuesday, actually, literally said to the press: “Like, could people please have a glass of water?”

She added: “Do you want students to die of dehydration and starvation?”

The Red Army held out at Leningrad for years despite facing famine; if the Zoomer leftists of today miss one afternoon snacktime, they start seeing the Grim Reaper. 

The peckish pro-Palestinian had previously pouted that the Hamilton occupiers were “asking for a commitment from Columbia for food and water to be brought in.”

In other words: Yes, we’ll break into and illegally seize campus buildings, but you’d better let the Uber Eats guy through. We’ve got a nonexistent genocide to impotently whine about, and that requires beaucoup calories. 

How about a new chant: Globalize the Intifada! Avocado and burrata!

That this hungry hungry Hamasnik is a weedy grad student whose studies reportedly aim at applying a “Marxian lens” to romantic literature completes the bleakly hilarious picture.  

Her demands are of a piece with the whining about amnesty over their illegal actions common among her fellow protesters.

A clear sign that these red-black-and-green diaper babies are in way over their heads, for all their tiers-mondiste tough talk. 

Johanna King Slutzky

The PostMillennial also reported on the incident.

Columbia PhD student accuses school administrators of wanting 'students to die of dehydration and starvation' in occupied campus building

A protester at Columbia University spoke out on Tuesday and delivered the demands of those occupying Hamilton Hall on the school's Morningside campus. The protester was identified as Johanna King-Slutsky, who has been a campus activist at least since 2021. She was with the Student Workers of Columbia and is a PhD student in English and Comparative Literature. 

"Why should the university be obligated to provide food to people who've taken over a building?" She was asked. Officers would move onto the campus later that evening.

"Well uh first of all we're saying that they should be obligated to provide food for students who pay for a meal plan here." Press was later blocked from campus.

And was able to add a bit of Ms King-Slutzky's background. She had been listed on Columbia's website as a PhD student on Tuesday morning, but by evening, that page was missing. Her biography read 

My dissertation is on fantasies of limitless energy in the transatlantic Romantic imagination from 1760-1860. 

My goal is to write a prehistory of metabolic rift, Marx’s term for the disruption of energy circuits caused by industrialization under capitalism. 

I am particularly interested in theories of the imagination and poetry as interpreted through a Marxian lens in order to update and propose an alternative to historicist ideological critiques of the Romantic imagination. 

Prior to joining Columbia, I worked as a political strategist for leftist and progressive causes and remain active in the higher education labor movement.

The End

In conclusion, Abq Jew would like to remind you, his loyal readers, that he is a not a proud graduate of the Columbia University School of Engineering, which (unlike, say, Columbia College) does not have a swimming requirement. But which is strategically located right there on Broadway and 116th Street.

He is, however, an acknowledged graduate of the UCLA School of Engineering and Applied Science. He also attended the University of California at Davis. When it comes to protesting - Abq Jew has been there and has done that. 

And Abq Jew is delighted to share his feelings about all those Pesach protests.