1. The Israeli expatriate Israel-hating professor professor at Oxford Avi "Slimy" Shlaim has been in the news (see below) for claiming that it was actually Israel that started the recent war in Gaza because Israel dared to return fire. Well, Slimy Shlaim has been in the news before. Back when the Neo-Nazi Norman Finkelstein was trying to get tenured at DePaul University without having nay academic publications, the Finkelstein lobby recruited two academic street walkers to write glowing letters of recommendation for Fink. One was Shlaim. The other was Penn's Ian Lustick. It did not help them - DePaul (unlike Ben Gurion University) has standards and denied Fink tenure.
2. I often find the Torah (and Bible in general) to have interesting insights into human nature and psychology. Take the use of the word Amen in this past week's Torah portion from near the end of Deuteronomy. Amen appears there repeatedly, and it is nearly the only place in the Torah where the word appears. (It does make an early passing appearance in the ritual of the "bitter waters" for a wife suspected by her husband of being unfaithful. )
But the repeated use of the word in this past week's portion may be the actual origin of the practice of using the word Amen as a response to blessings and prayers. But the matter is far more intriguing. In the portion, it is used there only as an answer to the curses read atop the Mount of Curses in the ceremony of the two mountains around Nablus/Shchem, and NOT as a response to the blessings read there. Indeed, in the Torah's "bitter waters" episode it is also a response to threats or a curse.
That is right - in the Torah, Amen (meaning roughly You Better Believe It Sonny) is a response to threats and curses, not to blessings. Blessings do not get answered with Amen. Perhaps it is all an interesting commentary on human nature and on just when and over what people are in need of hearing You Better Believe It, Boychik.
Making it an intriguing mystery how the use of the word altered over time to be the mechanical response to hearing someone say a blessing. And more generally, what exactly the Amen word was intended to convey.
It seems to me that the Torah-based appropriate response to hearing anyone say the Hamas terrorrhoids in Gaza should be bombed into the Stone Age - should be Amen.
In response: We demand back wages for the the 400 years or so of slavery, computed at the minimum wage, capitalized forward with compound interest and adjusted for inflation to 2014, all of which is - I believe - greater than the total capital asset stock of the planet, and then we can discuss this demand by the Gyptians.