Saturday, January 7, 2012

ChadashAsur - not the most offensive blogger in town

Rav Malinowitz's infamous (and quite public) blogpost certainly has a good point about the press taking advantage of the Orot / Bet Shemesh situation for its own evil purposes. ChadashAsur ranted about the same thing right before the Chanuka demonstration.

There's a lot to be said about the rest of Rav Malinowitz's blogpost, but Rav Lipman has already made short work of it.

ChadashAsur, with all his cynicism and politically-incorrectness, still expects a minimum of propriety from those purporting to lead our communities and educate our children, at least slightly more than on this blog. And when a rabbi posts this kind writing style on a shul's website, and the laypeople don't show him the door and find someone more appropriate for the job, then it is usually time to find a new shul president.

Rav Malinowitz - if you want to take over Chadash Asur instead of your shteller - it's all yours, and apparently a lot closer to your true calling.

And we haven't forgotten part-one of your two-part Chodosh piece, in which you drew some twisted moral equivalence between the thugs at Orot ('protestors' as you prefer to call them) and the school itself, promising to explan further in part two. And then begging off part two because it was too close to Rosh Hashanah. Glad to see that the situation got bad enough for you to issue a statement nonetheless.

So much for you. At least we'll always have Steinzaltz.

Sucker Punched

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Yated Neeman: Lutheran Interlude

ChadashAsur is still trying to calm down after that post on the genesis of last week's mega-protest...

Some interesting items on the front page of Friday's Yated Neeman, that old watchdog of Litvish monolithism that still manages some international news. Have a look:

Click to enlarge
 On top we have R' Elyashiv's condemnation of the competition - Mishpocho's new free weekly edition. Just imagine if Maariv could issue an issur against buying Yediot and Haaretz - Nimrodi wouldn't have had to go to all that trouble of getting a hit man to knock off the other editors (allegedy). If you were wondering, Mishpocho wrote a whole page about how they consult with מרנן ורבנן גדולי ישראל before writing anything - but neglected to mention any of these Geonim by name, for fear of harming their kids' shidduch score.

On the bottom we have a long kvetch about the blood libel against the Cursing Avrech of Jerusalem. Well, Yated uses the verb העיר, which is somewhere between "mentioned" and "corrected". Not worth much of ChadashAsur's time, since all the haredi papers carried that opinion piece on Friday in some form or another. Ho hum.

What did catch my eye was the red-on-black honorable mention given to Reform Rabbi (ראביי) Uri Regev, who is quoted as saying "Our Only Hope: The New Haredim Who Will Lead into a New Era".

Now, cautioning the flock that חדש אסור מן התורה is, er, nothing new around here. But the use of Regev, that present-day reincarnation of the arch-Hellenist Zeus-worshipping High Priest Menelaus, makes ChadashAsur pause and think. And what I think is that the Gaons of Yated must be getting paranoid about forward thinking and seditious trends among the readership. Otherwise, using the Reform Rabbi nuke would be a little disproportionate. Well I hope they have good reason to be afraid but I think it will take more than Ynet's efforts to sell more newspapers to introduce any widespread social changes in RBS Bet.

Oh, and Chodosh was interesting this week as well, but it was adequately covered by HGHR"N Slifkin over at Rationalist Judaism. That is, when he wasn't calling Eisav a vampire and wondering if Rochel Imenu was eaten by a werewolf.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Let's get exploited

Lots of us have been wondering why thousands of secular Israelis will be descending upon Bet Shemesh Tuesday evening. After all, there were more tzadikim in Sodom than there are Ashkenazi chilonim in contemporary Bet Shemesh (not including undercover chassidish crypto-non-believers). So, 24 hours before the dubious reinforcements arrive, ChadashAsur takes you behind the scenes at the conception of the Thousands of Israelis Will Protect Naama facebook group.

The conversation that probably didn't happen:
"Yooo, look at that adorable 7 year-old Naama trying to walk with her mommy to the neighborhood wholesome traditional school being oppressed by libidinous older men. Let's get together to show our support for such a likeable community. They are really the future of the Jewish people and this is the time to stand with them and show those charedim that their misguided form of Judaism won't stand in the way of our National Religious brethren."
Naaaa. ChadashAsur wasn't convinced either! Let's try again.

Another conversation that probably didn't happen:

"Can you believe what is happening in Bet Shemesh? Separate busses, separate sidewalks, Taliban women, disregard for the rule of law, and now going after little kids? I tell you, Bet Shemesh today, Jerusalem tomorrow, and Ramat Aviv the next day. At the rate these charedim breed, I honestly fear that by the next Sylvester party my favorite night club on Even Gvirol will have an all-male bar and separate restrooms! We have to act selflessly and drive all the way past Natbag to that backwater periferiya maabara to try and save what is left of Herzl's dream. If you will it, it is no dream."
 A little more realistic, but give me a break. 

Here's what probably went down last week somewhere in Tel Aviv at 3am:
"Sheeet, Ophir. Here we are only 13 months before the next elections, and we still don't have an idea for a party. We could carry on about how we're still stuck with the same old parties, Likud, Labor, Meretz (don't even talk to me about those ex-Likudnikim in Kadima). But look at all the dudes who have tried that and failed - the Third Way, Mifleget haMercaz, even those Pensioners יבדל"א. What can we do? I don't have a job lined up for next year and that Daphne Leaf stole my other idea. 
 Well, no alternative, we have to go with the usual Haredi bashing unless you can think of something better. Listen, my uncle knows Yair Lapid - they both spent their army service drinking coffee at the BaMachaneh magazine HQ in Tel Aviv. He's got this Friday night TV show. Let's get him to regurgitate that youtube video from a few months ago in that hick town - forgot the name, was it Beer Sheva or BS something? - with the dosim throwing stuff at little girls. Then we organize a protest, we get to speak, and who knows where it can go from there? If there aren't any terrorist attacks that week, all the networks will jump on it.
We keep this up for a week or two, go back to Tel Aviv, and leave those right-wingers to do our dirty work battling it out over their madrassa with the charedim. Face it, aren't right wingers and charedim the two reasons why this country sucks? When the dust settles you'll see how many birds we get with this stone. 
And here's the best part - these aren't your usual datiim who know our schtik and are too smart to play along. They're a bunch of naive Americans who left Fifth Avenue to live in some development town, for some kind of ideals. I mean, these are just a bunch of Baruch Goldsteins who can't even say "Orot" without sounding like Tal Brody.

[Jump to Monday Dec. 26:] Oops. I hope none of those Rabin-killer Mafdal settlers in Sheinfeld really listened to Esti Moscowitz on the radio this morning. They might see through this and stay home."
P.S. This is satire. But ask yourselves: 
  • Why is this happening now? In September when we were really under fire, the media and facebook couldn't be bothered.
  • How will Orot and Bet Shemesh be better off next month when the world has forgotten and won't care that the police stop returning calls?
  • How long will it take to see a facebook group with the very same (non-local) members against segregated religious schools such as Orot?
  • Whose interests is this campaign meant to serve? In Israel nothing happens in a void.

וְאִישׁ בְּרֵעֵהוּ יְהָתֵלּוּ וֶאֱמֶת לֹא יְדַבֵּרוּ
לִמְּדוּ לְשׁוֹנָם דַּבֶּר שֶׁקֶר הַעֲוֵה נִלְאוּ

ירמיהו ט ד

Saturday, October 29, 2011

From Pyongyang to Bet Shemesh

He is truly our Dear Leader. He selflessly supports the masses from upon high. His knowledge of science, engineering, management and the medical arts astound even the most prominent experts. Without skipping a beat, he provides “on the spot field guidance” to craftsmen and engineers alike, and radically improves industrial efficiency.

Kim Jong Il, general secretary of the Workers′ Party of Korea and chairman of the National Defence Commission of the DPRK, provided field guidance to the construction site of the Wonsan Army-People Power Station.

Kim Jong Il provides field guidance to Migok Cooperative Farm in Sariwon

Kim Jong Il gives on-the-spot guidance at the Anju Chicken Farm.

Kim Jong Il Provides Field Guidance to Rakwon Machine Complex and Soap Shop of Sinuiju Cosmetics Factory

Has Chadash Asur really transferred his dubious affections to the Supreme Leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea? Has Bet Shemesh nothing more to offer a poor blogger looking for egregious examples of a would-be personality cult gone bad? Will CA start snacking on kimchi and change the name of this blog to 울트라 정통 단지 사랑 받기 원함 ???

Fear not, for our local water corporation has ensured that I hardly need to go so far afield.

There is a whole legal and governmental history behind these new municipal water corporations. But all CA knows is that some time last year, 16% VAT was suddenly added to his bill and several members of his nuclear (no pun intended) family were deleted from the allocation on his monthly bill.

Indeed, the establishment of Mei Shemesh (Sun Water in English - sounds like something the Lubavitchers drink on Simchas Torah) also had some financial impact on the life of one Reb Yeshayahu Ehrenreich. Readers of Chadash Asur will recall that Yeshayahu, a chain-smoking one-time tactical mayoral hopeful, already runs Meuchedet's system of medical clinics in BS. He also finds the time to run a restaurant in Ramat Gan, and is now riding the wave of Mei Shemesh.

Municipal elections are still 2 years away, but Yeshayahu already feels the need to show us just how far he has gotten in his quest to lead. During the recent holiday season, residents of our shtetl all received a glossy all-male 32-page magazine with a useful fridge magnet in a colorful bag (perfect for any yungerman to carry his belongings around in). Let's check it out.

On the right we see Yeshayahu riding the local waterworks in his Sunday best. Harmless.

But here we get an inkling that if Mei Shemesh got a nuke, it would be on the State Department's travel advisory board. Peled Dichter, CEO of the corporation and a regime loyalist, tells us that none of these hydro-wonders would have been possible without "the involvement of our leader, Yeshayahu Ehrenreich, who guides the corporation's activities, gets down to the smallest details, and knows how to make the right decisions using sound and professional judgment." That's it, I'm buying a 50-gallon drum to store water in my yard.

Our leader gives on-the-spot guidance to the Mei Shemesh computer technicians.

Our leader gives on-the-spot field guidance after a pipe blew and half the city had no water.

Guess which of these guys actually know what they are doing with that valve, and which one is giving them on-the-spot field guidance.

Hey, which way is mizroch from here?

Our leader giving on-the-spot field guidance while scoping out a potential tashlich site.

One day, this will all be mine.

For dessert, our leader either wants us to know just how many millions of shekels pass through his hands, or that he wants extra funding for a Mei Shemesh magazine editor. You tell me why we are being berated, like a bochur caught cutting seder, for not recognizing just how great our Great Leader really is.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Monday, October 3, 2011

In a Pig's Eye

Mrs. ChadashAsur pointed out this gem from Mishpocho's holiday consumer magazine, "Fix" (פיקס). The loanword "פיקס" in colloquial Hebrew doesn't exactly mean "fix". And apparently Mishpocho's staff doesn't think that "ham" actually means a succulent morsel from the hind leg of that split-hoofed animal commonly known as a chazer.

No women's images grace this edition, but apparently swine are on a rather higher madreiguh:

Now here's another reason to include English in the charedi educational system.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Abutbul wags the dog

ChadashAsur has often opined that changing the subject is the key to managing a toddler. Just keep the kid focusing on what you want him/her to think about, and s/he doesn't destroy your stuff.

Mayor Abutbul's mouthpiece, Chodosh, seems to share my conventional wisdom. The previous two weeks' editions have been chock-full of accounts of the inhumane, anti-charedi sedition of the 6 year-old courtesans daring to learn Torah within shouting distance of the newspaper's would-be readership. This week's edition, however, ominously started with this:

As ChadashAsur has previously observed, the Haredi dissociation from modern Hebrew, while hesitantly speaking it all the time (except for some Yiddish diehards), leads to some pretty pathetic grammar. In this case, only a really desperate situation could lead Chodosh to splash an Arabic word across the cover (BTW - aleyhom is Arabic for עליהם, used to rally attacking infantry, and has entered colloquial Hebrew meaning something like "dog pile" or "lynch"). For those of you who actually read the kvetchy housekeeping columns in the English portion of Chodosh, you might remember one Imma complaining that her kids are using Hebrew slang, and that she "draws the line at Arabic". Well, no longer.

The article takes umbrage at Abutbul's treatment at a meeting of the Knesset Immigration Absorption Committee that met in his office this week. Apparently the guests weren't too happy that BS only builds for people who will obey divine orders to vote for Abutbul, and told him so.  But politicians have pretty thick skin, especially in this part of the Middle East, and I can't imagine that a few insults bother Abutbul  much. (Oh, and no mention at all in the English section, but that's already flogging a dead horse.)

ChadashAsur then combed through the fifty-nine pages of the Hebrew section looking for news of that major civil disturbance taking place down the block - the one that daily draws up to 25 policemen in riot gear, Border Police jeeps blocking intersections, projectiles flung at young children cowering on their way home from school, and press coverage around the country. Not to mention requiring Abutbul to send a squirmingly-written letter to his philanthropic friends sort of promising to take care of the problem (great signature!). But to no avail - I couldn't find even a veiled mention of that blight on our pious landscape named the Orot Girls School.

ChadashAsur went to bed Thursday night wondering what was going on beneath the surface, why Chodosh newspaper was trying so badly to turn Abutbul into the victim. This kind of defensive tactic usually means that the subject is diverting attention from something worse. But what? Not Orot School, not packing the place with constituents - he's certainly not ashamed of any of that.

I needn't have waited long. 

Bright and early Friday morning, Haaretz provided us with this interesting example of investigative journalism (so far in Hebrew only):

The article traces the evolution of a grandiose project in old Bet Shemesh - demolishing a few blocks of decrepit Stalinist-era apartment buildings ("שיכונים") in favor of modern buildings. In return for their acquiescence, the existing tenants are given a share of the apartments in the new project. The problems start when many tenants aren't keen on the idea of moving out for a couple years without any certainty that the project will be completed. The developer then has his hands full trying to convince the holdouts to sign the paperwork.

Haaretz tells of a young entrepreneurial developer running around and getting signatures from the residents of these squalid hovels, and coming up short over half of the required signatures. So he goes to one Michael Chazan, a.k.a the "Teeth Puller", an overachieving product of Bet Shemesh's pedagogical system with five convictions for battery, extortion, etc. - and currently behind bars. As a member of Israeli's leading underworld group (led by Amir Mulner), Michael was recently indicted in this summer's biggest celebrity expose - Yemenite singer Margalit Tzanani enlisting Michael's services to persuade a business associate to pay up, and on the side throwing Kochav Nolad (the Israeli "American Idol") and signing up talent with his own agency. 

But hey, why doesn't Michael Hazan's agency consider signing our mayor on to a prime-time slot - his acting abilities are aptly demonstrated in this excerpt below, at least when he is banishing some undesirables from his neighborhood. What a shame that he had to take his less favored career option and enter municipal politics. (HT: RafiG)

Back to our story. Harmless young entrepreneur partners with the Teeth Puller with the apparent objective of persuading the holdout tenants to sign whatever papers shoved at them. Abutbul and his city council convene in May 2011 to approve the huge deal, and even try to obtain preferential financial terms from the national government. Didn't hurt that our dental surgeon was a childhood friend of Meir Balaish, Mr Abutbul's unlikely coalition partner. Then, in August, just when Abutbol is turning his attention to the overriding problem of the sock-less 6 year-olds of Orot, the Margalit Tzanani story breaks and Michael Hazan is arrested. The real estate project stops in its tracks. Abutbul sudden orders Orot closed, then hesitantly opens it,  and then .... flies off to Budapest, Hungary for a week to meet with Palestinians under the tutelage of the extreme left-wing Geneva Proposal while keeping a low profile. 

Of course, the extent of the municipality's knowledge of  the mafia's involvement in the project remains to be seen, and according to the Haaretz timeline, Hazan officially joined after the official approval for the project. ChadashAsur, far from being a conspiracy theorist, is patiently waiting to see how this plays out. Was Orot a diversion for the underworld deal? Is this week's kvetch a diversion for Orot? We'll see. But the question begs - if Abutbul is used to the likes of the Amir Mulner gang, he can't possibly be afraid of the skinny little sikrikim. One phone call and they'll all be swimming with the fishes.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

George Elliot Redux

ChadashAsur doesn't know much about the latest glossy advertising vehicle to hit our trashbins mailboxes en masse, named "BIZנס". CA also doesn't know much about the "editor", Ariel Topf, except that he educates his kids "to do what's right and not what's convenient and easy" (see "Letter from the Editor" in the Sept. 2011 issue).

Enter the Sept 2011 issue, which advertises "10 experts you can call for FREE NOW". On page 44 we get this list of local consultants in a variety of fields:

Go ahead and have a good look at these 10 reputable names -- and the 8 male faces that go along with them!  (If you live around here you will know most of these people, but since this isn't about them, ChadashAsur took the precaution of redacting the most obvious identifying details.)
Yup, as befits any print matter distributed in Bet Shemesh, we are treated to a graphically female-rein publication. In BIZנס of 2011 CE, women can be heard (for 15 whole minutes during which you can "ask any questions" as the ad tells us), but chas v'sholom not seen.

Ariel Topf - you want me call up a female lawyer or financial consultant, and possibly even meet with her in a professional setting (R"L!!), but you won't show her visage in your mag along with everyone else? Either you've had the pleasure of a visit by the local tznius squad kano'im taking a break from throwing eggs and water balloons at the 6 year-old harlots of Orot, or you've taken the convenient and easy way out, just like you teach your kinderlach not to do.

I'll take the English-language section of Chodosh (if its editor hasn't been fired yet) over BIZנס any day.

Friday, September 2, 2011

OROT Banot & the Jungle Book

The Orot girls school saga is rather too serious a matter to be addressed in ChadashAssur, but even my satirical self can't keep quiet when seeing it splashed bilingually across the pages of that favorite watchdog of democracy, Chodosh newspaper of Bet Shemesh.

Let’s start with the English coverage, at the back of today's edition.

I liked these passages:

"…surrounded by National Religious neighborhoods… yet close to several charedi buildings"

"the school was originally designated for Orot Banot but extremist charedi elements … began demonstrating two years ago"

"this week the extremists threatened to vandalize the building…" 

Nothing about the National Religious camp (now known, of course, by the moniker ד"לים וריקים) engaging in senseless violence, trespassing on municipal property, nothing about poor charedim paying municipal development costs in "their" area for institutions suitable for their fastidious morals and tastes, and not a word about National Religious insensitivity to the legitimate needs of a community unwilling to see scandalous 11 year-olds in long denim skirts walking down R' Herzog St.

With observations like these, the article could almost have been written for the "We Are All Orot Banot" facebook group.

Far be it from ChadashAsur to draw parallels between Bet Shemesh politics and the Arab world, but followers of al-Jazeera may be familiar with the discrepancies between their main Arabic coverage and the westward looking English news channel. Such shameless tactics surely could not be used effectively here in BS, where almost every Anglo can read Hebrew fairly well...

Now to the considerable Hebrew coverage:

 The cover has a montage of photos from the week's events, and two editorial blurbs pop up among them, entitled "Such Violence" and "The Primordial Sin".

Yisroel Schreiber tells us that "the struggle must be a fundamental one, against the very embezzlement (עושק) of the building from the residents of the neighborhood, and against the 'primordial sin' of robbing the building from the residents of the neighborhood [@Yisroel, you should get a thesaurus and avoid repeating sentence fragments] who paid for the public areas and the public resources with their hard-earned money, as embodied in the taxes they paid when purchasing their apartments [yeah, @Yisroel, but with the ptor they get from the city, since moving in they haven't paid more than 10% of what I pay the city in taxes every two months].

Dovid Rubin opines that the "media have reported 'charedi violence' in the struggle for control of the school' and concealed two facts. One, there is no struggle for ownership of the building, but a request to fulfill a promise not to house girls in the building. Second, there was violence, but not charedi violence, rather from the other side. How do I know? Because I was there. I was in the building and the courtyard for six hours, and none of the charedim raised a hand." Dovid goes on to write (in the full editorial on p.33) that "not one window was smashed, not one chair was damaged…". Well, @Dovid, yesterday I took this picture of two broken windows, and I guess you would say that the da"lim vereikim are vandalizing their own school just to spite you:

But the first paragraph in Dovid's article takes all – let's call it the Jungle Book version of the events. I'm not making this up:

"Once a lamb was trapped in the jungle. It lost its way, wandered anxiously among the grand trees, watched ravenous predators from afar, and sought refuge. Ultimately it found a large clearing, clear of bushes and rocks, and devoid of predators [@Dovid, synonyms please], and there it decided to make its home. Over time, it even developed neighborly relations with the jungle denizens, who learned not to approach [the lamb's] territory and to let it lead its life serenely, and it learned to respect their habits. One day, a goat entered the clearing. The lamb was familiar with the goat, which wandered among the jungle dwellers for many years, and became one of the gang. What do you want, asked the lamb. To live here, said the goat, there is no room left over there, in the thick of the forest. The lamb understood that the goat was sent to further diminish the forest clearing, which was small to begin with, but decided not to confront the strong jungle dwellers. It vacated some room, where the goat and its kids would be able to live."  The article continues to describe how the lamb objects to the smell of the goat's cabbage, because cabbage makes lambs' breathing burdensome, and asks the goat to eat its cabbage outside the clearing. The goat agrees and they coexist happily for years. Then, one day the lamb awakens amid a huge cabbage feast in the clearing, with the goat calling all the jungle animals to partake who arrive and cast threatening glances at the lamb. Predictably, the large land animals start roaring at the little lamb to shut up and let the goat do as it pleases. Welcome to the Jungle....

The parable is explained about as predictably as you would expect. No need to restate the  charedi version of the events -  too familiar and tiresome to be worth any more typing tonight.

But most importantly, and rather frightening, is the short shrift Chodosh gives the threats by the "extremists". This clearly unimportant facet of the story merits but a few short lines quoted from the municipality's statement and from other "media" (p.34). The Hebrew article says not a word about the mayor's initial communication to the Orot parents committee, in which he based his order to close the school (less than a week before the beginning of the school year) on the threats. This reasoning is even mentioned in the English-language section of Chodosh!

In the same article that condemns the da"lim vereikim for purportedly engaging in violence, the mention of the extremist threats is taken as a fait accompli, without any critical or other comment by the reporter. ChadashAsur has long mocked the charedi establishment's routine renunciation of extremist violence, usually claiming that they are the real victims, while lobbying to prevent the arrest of even the most rabid rabble-rousers that happen to have a black felt kippa and some shiny shoes. Even when they have been ditching kollel so long that they can't name more than two sedarim of mishna.

Chas veshalom that one should draw parallels between the charedi "extremists" dynamic on one hand, and the comfortable yet vehemently denied relationships of Sinn Fein with IRA, and of the political Muslim Brotherhood with the Izz-a-din al-Qassam Brigades…..but sentiments aside, you get the point. Let’s face it – the kanoim, sikrikim, or what have you, are proxy warriors doing someone's dirty work. My charedi brethren, don't forget what happened to the USA after financing the Taliban to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan in the eighties.
מהרסייך ומחריבייך ממך ייצאו.

To close on a positive note, I was rather surprised to see a response by R' Nechemia Margalit, a prominent member of the neighborhood and the Ohel Yona synagogue, at the end of the article. Nechemia presents a fine position and ably takes issue with our new title, ד"לים. Don't miss it.

See kinda hi-res images of the entire Hebrew editorials and article below (click to enlarge):


Thanks to R.S.E. shlit"a for generously (if reluctantly) giving me his copy of Chodosh tonight. At some point during the life of this blog, delivery to my Sheinfeld street was suspiciously halted…

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Blame Game

Plenty of people have commented on the telling contrast between the Egyptian facebook revolution against a despotic ruler and the Israeli facebook revolution about an extra 25 cents on cottage cheese.

In both cases, however, it is still the Jews who get blamed. On the left, Al-Ahram newspaper (still smarting from ChadashAssur's account of its editorial desk's morality during the Arab Spring) quotes some politician blaming the upcoming Egyptian Civil War on the Israelis (yaani, standing in for the Jews). On the right, Haaretz newspaper creates some strange linkage between the cottage cheese price frenzy and the Ponevezh yeshiva (vadok, the haredim standing in for the Jews).

אין חדש תחת השמש

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

As if we wouldn't notice

I didn't notice at first.

The Bet Shemesh municipality outdid itself this year with the annual booklet showing how it would have us think it is spending "my" arnona contributions.
(This is where I should say that no one in this town save ChadashAsur and a few friends actually pay arnona, but you could shake any building in Sheinfeld and get 20 Bet Shemesh List posts saying the same thing.)

Page after page of new parks, politicians with real smiles, kids with fake smiles, construction cranes, the mayor glad-handing government ministers, serious-looking guys with black hats sitting incongruously behind power desks, the usual BS fare.

A lot of this:

And this:

After a few pages, I started getting a déjà vu from the first day of 5th grade at the Hebrew Academy in my Californian hometown. That was the year that the classes were segregated, and I found myself in an exclusively male environment. No big deal when you are 10 years old, to be honest.

And so it was that I discovered that females of all ages were excluded, cropped, deleted, banished and expelled from the Bet Shemesh pictured in Mayor Abutbul's PR booklet. To sadly quote Ecclesiastes/Koheleth 7:28 - "וְאִשָּׁה בְכָל אֵלֶּה לֹא מָצָאתִי".

Furiously ChadashAsur flipped back and forth through the glossy pictures, hoping that a hint of double-X genetic material had survived the purge, and perhaps not unsuccessfully. You can decide whether a member of the unseen gender is hiding here (apologies to the person with the sunglasses if he's a guy!):

And maybe a Jewess is riding this bus whilst demurely concealed by the strategically placed flags (the ones with the city's sun-god namesake):

So, while the Saudi meidelach fret and sign facebook petitions about not being allowed to drive around their Kingdom, their sisters in RBS will need to wait patiently, in their wifi-less homes and pashkevil-plastered streets, for recognition by a more liberal coalition in City Hall.

It'll get worse before it gets better.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

From Cairo to Bet Shemesh

Chadash Asur has been getting a number of hits from readers in Lebanon and Egypt. I welcome attention from the dubious and nascent democracies to our north and west (respectively). This post is dedicated to you, whomever you may be and whichever shady Muchabarat organization you may be working for.

A recurring Chadash Asur theme has been the dichotomy between a purportedly objective media and an unwavering monolithic social environment. This problem is usually solved by reporting only what fits the dictated world view, as ridiculous as it might seem at the time. But imagine the predicament of an aspiring haredi politician-slash-editor, or lehavdil, an aspriring Egyptian politician-slash-editor, when cracks appear in the monolith and conflicting interests compete for the stage.

Time now for the first ever comparative review of Chadash of Bet Shemesh and Al-Ahram newspaper of Cairo, featuring the rise of an Israeli police academy and the demise of the Egyptian National Democratic Party's secret police.

I. Cairo ק"ק

AlAhram (literally "The Pyramids") is Egypt's largest newspaper, and (according to Wikipedia) is majority-owned by the Egyptian government. As one would imagine, the newspaper was, until recently, rather uncritical of President Mubarak and his regime. In fact, last October the newspaper famously photoshopped a picture of President Obama and a group of Middle East statesmen, so that Mubarak would be seen leading the group rather than trailing after it (like what little Joey said to Kareem in Airplane – "you don't even run down the court, and you don't really try... except during the playoffs"). Have a look at the before and after shots:

Obama leads, Mubarak trails:

And...Hosny leads (the headline reads "the Road to Sharm e-Shaikh", but Mubarak had no idea at the time that he would be hiding out there a few weeks later after being deposed):

Hard to imagine a parallel in the Israeli press, apart from the occasional inking out of a female likeness (saw this once in an illustrated shtetl chasuna scene in Yated).

Suddenly, surprising politicians, demonstrators and the Mossad alike, the January 25 protest movement exploded in Egypt. You can imagine the dialogue at Al-Ahram:

Osama (actually the editor's name, not that other guy): Look Abdul, I don't care what our orders are, we can't ignore this, everyone in Mitzroyim can see the mobs burning stuff in the street and getting shot by the police.

Abdul Muneim: Yeah, but who gives when it's your head and mine when this all quiets down and Gamal [Mubarak] comes by wanting to know what in gahanam we were doing inciting the peasants against his dad. Remember what happened when that idiotic magnoon from the photography dept forgot to erase the zit from Gamal's wife's forehead in the Mubarak family portrait we put on the first page on Republic day? When the security services were finished with his own face, even Adobe Photoshop CS5 Extended couldn't help. Masha'allah we were able to place all the blame on his poor soul...

Osama: Fine, I see your point. Uh, what else is happening in the world that we can feature on the front page……Here! Lebanon! Never a dull moment. Looks like Hezbollah forgot to take their medication again and sent the government packing, all because of some assassination, not that anyone expects a Lebanese government to stick around for more than a few years. Anyway, let's get a nice violent picture from Beirut with some eye-catching flames to cover most of the page. Then, under the item about free trade agreement with the US and the piece about the interview with the interior minister, just visible above the crease, we can put something tame about what is happening around here, without mentioning the armored personnel carriers… hey, do you smell that smoke? OK, let's go with this language, Gamal shouldn't mind and inshaallah we won’t look like total jackasses to everyone else:

Abdul Muneim: Alhamdulillah, I have taught you well.

AlAhram January 26, 2011

Main headline: Widespread Unrest and Rioting in

Far lower left: Mass Protests in Cairo and the Districts; Martyring of a Security Forces Conscript in Cairo and Two Youths in Suez[Ministry of the] Interior Calls for a Cessation of Gatherings

Skip two weeks later, and Mubarak is on a helicopter on the way to his Sinai retreat, Egyptians are tearing though government ministries, and it is clear to even the most loyal cog in the Egyptian bureaucracy that a new dawn has risen over Goshen, even if the army was behind the revolution from the beginning.

Abdul Muneim: Ya Osama, chabib 'albi! It is our dream come true! The people have finally demanded their rights! Pharaoh is gone! We are free!

Osama: What have you been putting in your narghila? Aren't you the one who taught me that the Ra'is is always right, and it is our job to bring his message to the ignorant masses?

Abdul Muneim: Wallahi, you need to learn to adapt to the times. You know that before I took up Nasr's cause I was employed by King Farouk, even though I don't like to talk about it....  Keep this up and you will be standing on the Corniche skipping stones into the Nile instead of running a newspaper. Listen to Uncle Abdul and you will be fine. Today's edition of AlAhram is something the glorious freedom movement will never forget. Look at this!

Osama: (speechless)

Abdul Muneim: Don't just stand there, get to work on blaming all of Mubarak's crimes on the Israelis!

AlAhram February 12, 2011

Big red headline: The Nation has Brought Down the Regime

Second red headline: The Youth Revolution Prevailed on Mubarak to Leave

Even more: Egyptians celebrate until morning, joyous at the victory in the first popular revolution in their modern history

II. Bet Shemesh ק"ק

A similar dialogue took place last week at Chadash headquarters in Ramat Bet Shemesh, when an order came in from the municipality for another mayoral love-fest article. This time, Mayor Moshe Abutbul was to be praised to shomayim for bringing a new sprawling police academy to the outskirts of Bet Shemesh. CAMH's sources report that the mayor's PR guy threw together 500 words about how great this would be for Bet Shemesh, and emailed it to Chadash minutes before the edition went to press.

Yisroel: Oh, CRAP, look at this time bomb we just got from Abutbul. Doesn't he understand that he can speak all he wants with the Tzioynishe politicians, but he shouldn't ask for a photospread? And now he's bringing 20,000 Cossack kalgasim and, R"L, kalgasiot right into Bet Shemesh, and he's proud of it! Of what? Our readership doesn't need the thousands of new jobs. Our readership won't vote for him next time unless he spends all his time making sure they won't have to see any more Medinoh uniforms than they already do. I tell you, if he keeps this up, Chadash will go the same way as Vois Iz Neias and we will all have to go back to, uh, learning full time. My shver will NOT be happy.

Dovid: Oy, Yisroel, don't run around like a headless chicken erev yom kippur. Think damage control. First, we give the byline to Chaim Lazerson whose children's shidduchim chances are shot anyway because they have a distant relative who is not only Lubavitch but also taught public school in Buffalo and had the bad sense to write a book about it. Second, just put a few paragraphs in the article about some geonim being concerned about the alien influences that the police school will bring to our pure shtetl. You know, before I became baal teshuva I saw, er, a series of documentaries about the police training process and I can tell exactly how bad it can be for pure Heimish souls.

Yisroel: But how? We go to press in 4 minutes, and you know as well as I that we can't change even one word of the text they sent us. Not to mention that there is no time to call the askanim to procure a gaonic comment.

Dovid: You are nothing but a naïve FFB, my friend. You need to learn the old Yiddish art of keeping everyone happy all the time. Don't change the text, and don't get an actual quote from the gaon. Put a little blurb on the side, and just type some vague words about people being concerned and stuff. Don't actually quote anyone by name because after all it's just you and me covering our tukheses. But find some way not to blame Abutbul, or the permit for expanding my kids' school building might be held up again.

Yisroel: Like this?

Dovid: Yup, no time to fix your usual 2nd grade grammar, let's stick it on the page and go to press: You will thank me next time Ehrenreich gets his people to accuse us and the mayor of not being frum enough. 

HT: RafiG

Monday, February 21, 2011

Matrimonial Economics 101

The economics of matrimony can tell you a lot about a society. 

For example, the long-standing Indian custom of shaking down the bride's parents to the tune of several years' salary may be seeing its final days. The imminent shortage of brides, caused by widespread ultrasound exams and the subsequent  abortion of female fetuses, will have to tilt the demand in the girls' favor, and the grooms' parents might actually have to shell out. Or, they could just continue the innovative practice of "exchange marriages", which is a kind of cashless cross-shidduch in which a brother and sister in one family marry a sister and brother in another family. In the words of Lonestar - "so what does that make us?"....

Back to E. Israel, where the town fathers can only look with envy at the Indian children's servile acceptance of arranged marriages. 

One of the great mysteries surrounding the haredi community is how they manage to raise a family on very little income, and then support their newlywed children with sums of cash that most srugie couples can only dream about. The reward of illuyim with a sidur maleh has certainly done more to encourage serious torah study than any Artscroll mussar volume. Unfortunately, the desperate need for cash has also spawned get-rich-quick schemes preying on poor people without much financial savvy.

Enter the following ad spotted by Chadash Asur last week, in "Connections" magazine. Connections, incidentally, tries to keep so many people happy that it has to offend everyone all the time. Such as a recent issue giving advice to 12th graders across the full spectrum, from going straight to the army (R"L) to hiding out in the Mir until age 30. Not bad practice for drafting a new Egyptian constitution with less than 10,000 casualties in an ensuing sectarian war.

Witness Bank Poalei Agudat Yisrael (which is really the First International Bank using a heimish-sounding nickname in its branches located in Haredi areas) making a play on parents worried about the next negotiation with the prospective in-laws. Note the wise middle-aged father with the dopey looking son - presumably this is meant to appeal to some parents' protectionary instincts, and the feeling that their kids will forever be 3 years old and require ' sagacious parental guidance.

But let's look a little closer, specifically at the volume that the pair is studiously posing with:

Let's ignore the copywriter's negligence in showing a mirror image of text. Can you identify the edition of the Babylonian Talmud by the cover font? No? Then you must be a true tzaddik who doesn't read anything put in cherem by Rav Shach, such as the Steinzaltz edition of the Talmud.

That's right, the choson-in-waiting is learning from a Steinzaltz! (Note for the uninitiated - this is an edition of the Talmud with Hebrew translation and vowels, and is denigrated by even the lowliest Hesdernik spending his 5th year studying for the psychometric exam...). No Haredi young man would be caught dead holding one, and a picture like this would doubtlessly destroy his family's shidduch chances for at least ten generations.

Yet maybe Chadash Asur is too quick to criticize. Families of illuyim don't need the bank, or the stock market, or anything. Their son's mind and reputation are like an ATM machine under his shtender. Rather, it's the parents of the other 98% who need the loans and the pyramid schemes - like the dude in this picture who is obviously not going to get even a kiddush cup from his mechutanim by virtue of his talmud torah. His parents will have to come up with the dough if he is to merit a remotely reasonable meidel.

Targeted advertising indeed.