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Monday, May 27, 2013

Pee-wee Herman’s Crazy Dad

Pee-wee Herman's Crazy Dad

by Zachary Solomon,

Those antics had to come from somewhere.

Hours after Ben-Gurion announced Israeli independence, Arab forces launched a massive ground invasion. Days later, the American pilot Milton Rubenfeld volunteered for the brand new Israeli Air Force. The young man from Peekskill, New York, his recruitment officer later told an historian, was "so cocky he seemed to swagger even while sitting down."

But Rubenfeld was more than just swagger. He quickly proved himself a skilled pilot, though he was no match for the Arab missiles that shot down his Avia S-199 and forced him to bail over the Mediterranean. As he swam to shore, Israeli farmers began to shoot, thinking him an Arab pilot. As the story goes, Rubenfeld knew no Hebrew to prove himself a compatriot. So he improvised, shouting, "Shabbos, gefilte fish! Shabbos, gefilte fish!"

Rubenfeld's storied life continued after the war. He returned to America and had 3 children, one of whom was Paul Reubens, i.e. Pee-wee Herman. Reubens even cast his father as an extra, earning Rubenfeld, along with his military accolades, his very own IMDB page.

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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Prof. Hawking, a boycott is a black hole too

Dear Prof. Hawking:

When I was a boy in ninth grade, I received a book as a birthday present. It was your successful work, A Brief History of Time. At that time, we did not yet have the internet, so I scoured the papers and the news on radio and television for any scrap of information about you. I was incredulous: "How is it possible that a man in a wheelchair who can barely speak has made such important discoveries about space?", I asked my father. Since then, 25 years after your book was published, my ears have been listening out for the sound of your name - for a return to those moments of my youth, to the sense of wonder at someone - you - who had proven that it is possible to do the impossible. That is, until Wednesday. Because Wednesday you announced that you were canceling your participation in the Israeli Presidential Conference. The reason was that you feel obligated to respect the academic boycott against Israel because of its treatment of the Palestinians. Your announcement was endorsed by spokespeople of a body called: "The British Committee for Universities in Palestine", another in a long list of organizations that are instigated by Palestinian elements and their partners in the cheap propaganda campaign known as BDS (Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions against Israel). Boycotts are flawed in principle. But there is something even more outrageous when intellectuals, scientists and cultural leaders in particular boycott an entire people, any people. Because if there is one field in which there must be room for dialogue, for a cultural bridge, for moral change, it is precisely here, on the same platform on which you and your colleagues stand. If I had to define this in your scientific language, I would say that the boycott creates reverse, negative energy, a vacuum. In my words - it leads to extremism, a hardening of positions, and deterioration. Yes, a boycott leads to a void that does not allow for dialogue, persuasion or discussion. Not with the boycotted people and certainly not with your colleagues, Israel's scientists, researchers, artists and writers. How often it happens that we find a song that has made us think differently about something, about somebody, about a particular people? How often we realize that the discovery of a foreign scientist, whose name we can barely pronounce, has changed our lives forever? How often it is that the director of a political film has caused us to say to someone next to us: "You know, apparently it really isn't ok." Professor Hawking, if you wanted to have an influence on the future of the Palestinians and on what you claim is Israel's problematic treatment of them, then it would be important for you to be here, in Jerusalem, Israel's capital, to say those things. Say them so that they resonate, provoke debate, make headlines. Say them so that we will listen, so that we nod our heads, so that we go back to our loved ones and say, "You know, I heard Prof. Hawking today and there's something in what he says..." Because as hard as it is for us to hear what you have to say, Israel is still a vibrant and lively democracy, one with freedom of speech that is unparalleled, not only in the Middle East but also in the Western world from which you come. Because it is permissible and appropriate to expect that an intellectual of your stature would face the questions, would try to understand that there is a grey area of reality between the Israelis and the Palestinians. I, Professor Hawking, have grown up. I am no longer a boy. I have come to understand that reality is generally not simple. It is not black or white, but mostly gray. It is a pity that you of all people, the object of my admiration, should have chosen to boycott me, the same child with a dream. It saddens me that you have chosen the black option, the option of boycott - the one that creates black holes in the relations between people's and countries, the same black holes that swallow up all that crosses their path. It is just this that I learned from the book that I got as a present, A Brief History of Time. And what will be with the next young reader who gets your book for his birthday? Will he or she also learn the same important life lesson that I was privileged to receive in my youth? Sadly, your support for the boycott passes down to the next generation the failure of the culture of dialogue and the betrayal of all that is right and good in our millennia-old basic values: the values of science, culture and art. Attorney Tzahi Gavrieli has served as an advisor to Prime Ministers Benjamin Netanyahu and Ehud Olmert

Original Page:,7340,L-4378746,00.html

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Monday, May 13, 2013

Israel detains ex-prisoner freed in Shalit deal

NABLUS (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces on Sunday morning detained a former prisoner who was released from jail in a prisoner swap between Israel and Hamas in 2011, locals said.

Israeli forces took Tahrir Sati al-Qinna, 35, and her brother Saddam, 25, to jail after raiding their village, Kafr Qalil, south of Nablus in the northern West Bank. Soldiers raided the village at 3 a.m., locals said.

The brother and sister are affiliated to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said she was looking into the report.

Israel has re-arrested over a dozen former prisoners it released under the terms of a deal to free captured soldier Gilad Shalit in October 2011 because of the ex-prisoner's acts of terrorism.

Separately, Israeli forces raided the Rafedia neighborhood west of Nablus and detained 42-year-old Omar Abdul-Rahim al-Hanbali.

A relative told the Tadamun (Solidarity) Foundation for Human Rights that large numbers of Israeli troops entered al-Hanbali's house late Saturday and took him to Huwwara detention center.

Al-Hanbali is a pharmacist, according to Ahmad al-Bitawi of Tadamun.

He said that al-Hanbali's brother Muhammad, an engineer and prominent leader within Hamas' military wing, was killed by Israeli forces in 2003.

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Irv Rubin and Earl Krugel