Tuesday, May 3, 2005

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Dennis Prager Vs. Dr. David Myers

UCLA. Moore Hall. Room 100. Monday, May 2, 2005. Dennis walks in at 4:58pm, after a long plane flight from Denver following his 9am-12pm radio show. I'd describe him as the jolly giant. Heads turn and look at him.

Dennis walks up to Dr. Myers (tall, bespectacled and slender), shakes hands, and banters. I spot Prager's blonde Persian intern and his beautiful blonde wife Fran. I don't see his son David, a UCLA-student.

The tall old black moderator sits in the center of the stage -- Dr. Berky Nelson.

The event was advertised as starting at 5pm prompt. It doesn't start until 5:20 and then there are 10-minutes of useless introductory speeches. With at least 200 people in the audience, I'd place a monetary value on the stolen time at at-least $1,000. Thanks organizers.

The event is jointly sponsored by the Progressive Jewish Students Alliance and UCLA Events.

Barry (?) from PJSA gives a meandering incoherent introduction and says: "...[E]vents that take place here in Israel."

Prager opens the debate with a six-minutes salvo. He says he's often argued liberally for peace in the Middle East. He's often said (up to 2001) that he can't stand the Israeli Right. Prager supported the Oslo Accords (but since 2001 he's said that was a mistake). "For real peace, I'd be willing to compromise on anything.

"I spoke at Stanford two years ago. I was there for a week giving lectures. It coincided with Israel's Independance Day. I spoke briefly at the celebratory rally for Israel. I said it is sad that we have an imbalance -- most Israelis crave peace and most Palestinians crave Israel's destruction. Every poll we have acknowledges that.

"A woman came over afterwards. She said, 'I'm a peace activist and I don't agree with what you said. The Palestinians absolutely want peace with Israel.'

"I said, 'I'll make you a $5 bet.' There were Palestinians demonstrating 50-feet away from us. 'Go to every one of them...and ask them: 'Are you prepared to make peace with the Jewish state of Israel?'

"She comes back ten minutes later. She says she's not sure. 'Everyone I asked if they would make peace with the Jewish state of Israel said, 'What do you mean?'' I said, 'Well, you owe me $5 but I won't collect.'

"That's the whole point. It's one of the incredible events of my lifetime that the obvious is denied. The vast majority of Palestinians do not want the Jewish state of Israel to exist. They think it is wrong. That it is a tragedy, a disaster from 1948 on. It is on their soil and it has no place. The vast majority of Israelis think the Palestinians do have a right to a Palestinian state.

"Everything else...is commentary. One side wants the other obliterated. I say this as someone...who cried when Rabin and Arafat shook hands because I am a naive peace-loving Jew. Jews generally ache for peace because we do not have the power not to have peace and because our tradition calls for it. There are few Jews who want to keep making war. But there is a deep belief on the other side that with enough time, they win. If enough Israelis are slaughtered in cafes and on buses...they will go away.

"That Jewish peace activist in Stanford was surprised to find not one Arab Palestinian leftist activist was willing to say, yes, we want peace with the Jewish state of Israel. Peace with Israel not a Jewish state is ethnic cleansing and Jews have had enough of that in the 20th Century."

Most of the crowd applauds.

Dr. Myers speaks for six minutes. He says Israel can no longer hold on to the occupied territories. He agrees with Ariel Sharon on a lot of things.

I remember discussing these things with Dr. Myers at temple in the summer of 2001. He wanted to write a book on why he no longer supported a Jewish state in the present state of Israel. When I mentioned that Beth Jacob Orthodox rabbi Steven Weil had articles supporting Sharon on his office, Dr. Myers was shocked. "I heard [Rabbi Weil] was a nice man," he said. "You can't be a nice man and support Sharon?" I asked. Dr. Myers said no.

Dr. Myers can sound moderate when he wants to but make no mistake -- he's Left. About 40% of the audience applauds.

Dennis: "Israel already offered all of this at Camp David in the last months of the Clinton administration. President Clinton, who was facile with words, said it was Arafat's fault that it broke down. Dennis Ross said [the same thing]. A contiguous state was already offered. Palestinians responded to a breathtaking offer by murdering a record number of Israeli children... That's what Israel has gotten every time it made overtures for peace.

"I support overtures for peace and I support the pull-out from Gaza. But I live in reality. I don't live at UCLA."

There's widespread laughter and applause. The crowd is 75% students.

"The Palestinians have greeted every Israeli overture for peace by blowing up as many [innocent] Israelis as possible and inventing new forms of torture such as putting rat poison on nails... The great majority of Palestinians support terror against Israel. These [suicide bombers] are the martyrs of the Palestinians. These are the heroes. Their posters are all over declaring how great they are. The more Israelis you kill, the more suffering you inflict on innocent Jews, the better a human being you are the and the more virgins you get in Heaven. That is the civilization Israel is fighting.

"Though that is true, I am willing to take the risks...

"My greatest hesitation in coming here was not that I shun debate. I debate for a living. My hesitation is the chutzpah involved in anybody from America telling Israel what to do for peace. I am blown away by the notion that we who sit in such comfort and security have the audacity to tell Israelis how to risk their lives. I direct that particularly at the American Jewish community."


"I always contend that because my children are American and growing up in America, who the hell am I to tell Israelis what risks to take. I say this to the right-wing as much as to the left. When right-wing American Jews attack left-wing Israeli prime ministers and when left-wing American Jews attack right-wing Israeli prime ministers I am annoyed.

"Israel is a perfectly functioning democracy. If you don't like who they choose, and you are a Jew, move there and talk any way you want."

Dr. Myers: "As members of the Jewish nation, we have an obligation to express our concern when Israeli policy affects Jews around the world."

Dr. Myers keeps referring to the new leadership of the Palestinian Authority.

Dennis: "I'd like to ask Dr. Myers a question he can answer on his next turn. He keeps saying Yassir Arafat is dead. I wrote a column entitled, 'Is it OK to hope anyone in Hell?'

"Did Dr. Myers speak differently when Arafat was living? Was he then as harsh on Arafat and the Palestinians as they deserved to be in that bygone era?"

Dr. Myers didn't answer the question, even though Prager repeated it, so let me answer it for Dr. Myers: The good professor had a similar approach to the Palestinians and their leadership under Arafat as he does today.

Dennis: "From the little I did read on the internet, he was just as anti the description of Arafat and the Palestinians as terrorists when [Arafat] was living and blowing up Israeli children as now that he is dead.

"I'd like to note that Dr. Myers says there are winds of change of democracy in the Arab world, something I celebrate. Whatever winds of change are there are thanks to someone I know Dr. Myers did not support -- George W. Bush.

"To have so opposed this man who made democracy possible and then to celebrate the winds of change..."

About the settlements: "I don't have any great joy in having Israeli settle among people who hate their guts. But I don't know why it is ok for a quarter of Israel to be Arab but it is not ok for any percentage of the Palestinian Authority to be Jewish? The notion of the West Bank being Judenrein when the attachment of the Jewish people [for 3,200 years] to that area [is deep]... Palestinians are a new [about 100-years old] national entity.

"If the Palestinian position is that this state must not have Jews in it, and I don't know if this has changed since Arafat died, that Jews have no historical rights or basis there... Arafat said Jesus was a Palestinian, and I don't know any Palestinian who contradicted him, echoed what the Nazis said -- that Jesus was an Aryan. The attempt to deny anything Jewish to the Jews in the most Jewish place in the world, a place saturated with Jewish bones and Jewish history, is not healthy. Opposition to settlements is a figleaf for a denial of reality of Jewish existence in that area. And you can't have peace if one side denies the other's historical bonds to the place."


Dr. Myers: "So how should we resolve those competing historical claims? Should we just fight it out to the last survivor? That makes no sense. Settlements are antithetical to peace. Settlements, according to most legal observers, are in contravention of international law (Fourth Geneva Convention, UN Resolution 242)..."

Dr. Myers does much of his speaking directly to Dennis across the stage. Dennis sits and looks either straight ahead or down. Dennis rarely if ever looks over at Dr. Myers while the professor speaks. When Dennis speaks, he addresses the audience. That makes sense. It's not like David or Dennis are going to change the other's mind.

Dennis: "I will leave it to Dr. Myers' students to ask him in class if, when Arafat was Prime Minister, or dictator, whatever title, whether Dr. Myers was characterizing Arafat and the Palestinians in the way they deserved to be characterized. Since he keeps making the differentiation that [Arafat's] dead and we have a new world among the Palestinians. Again, I pose that question. Perhaps you'd rather speak about it to your students and not to us.

"About international law -- there are major jurists who have different takes on the settlements given that Israel's war was entirely defensive [in 1967]... Jordan lost the West Bank because they went into a war of genocide to destroy Israel. They declared their intentions genocidal and Israel survived it. Then Israel's supposed to go back, as if this is all a game of cards. Ok, next gin rummy game.

"Second, morality and law are not the same. The international community, academia and media utterly condemned Israel's [1981] bombing of [Iraq's nuclear reactor]. I'm sure there wasn't one UCLA professor who defended Israel's attacking of Saddam Hussein's nuclear weapons program. It was condemned by every major newspaper in this country except for the Wall Street Journal. When Sudan is made the head of the Human Rights commission at the UN, I know to take it [international opinion] with a grain of salt."

Dr. Myers: "Thirty years later, the settlements are still there and you're stuck with the same old rhetoric. Living in your world of Olympian moral heights, a world of absolute moral virtue, a world in which the Jew is incapable of an act on injustice...that seems to me moral relativism."

He says that Israelis and Palestinians supported peace negotiations in equal numbers. That Americans and Israelis should economically invest in the Palestinian state, fix their sewage and give them a light-rail system, and that would morally elevate Palestinian political culture and make them see homicide bombing is a moral abomination.

Dennis: "I would love to see Americans and Israelis help Palestinians see terrorists as moral abominations.

"I feel that when I come to universities that I have entered a different sort of world, where people believe that Americans and Israelis can teach Palestinians basic morality, that blowing up innocent people is a moral abomination. It's bizarre to me. Either your culture teaches you that or it doesn't. That Americans would teach Palestinians that rat-poisoned bombs are bad, I feel like I'm entering The Twilight Zone.

"I have more respect for Palestinians, perhaps, than Professor Myers. Either they will teach themselves what basic morality entails or they will not learn it. Americans and Israelis are the last people in the world to shape the moral vision of Palestinians.

"I heard from Dr. Myers that the yearning for peace was the same among Israelis as among Palestinians. Can anybody sing me any of the Israeli peace songs so popular among Israelis? Of course. Anyone who knows Israel can sing any peace song. Israelis go nuts for peace. They OD on yearnings for peace. How many peace songs were played on Palestinian radio? Maybe it was a Palestinian yearning for peace without the little caveat of the Jewish state of Israel like Germans yearned for peace with Poland [before WWII]."

Dr. Myers: "Adolf Hitler is dead, sir."

A quarter of the audience applauds.

Dr. Myers: "From your Olympian moral heights, I'm astonished at your demonized vision of the Palestinians."

Same applause.

Dr. Myers: "This kind of demonization, sir, is dangerous and should be avoided.

"What I had in mind was not sending our best representative of virtue over to the Palestinian territories, Dennis Prager... What I had in mind was economic investment so that sewage does not flow through the streets of refugee camps and parents can put food on the table for their children. So parents can provide an education for their children. This will require a monumental investment by the rest of the world and Israelis...and [move along] an important path towards the maturation of Palestinian culture."

Moderator for Prager: What role can we hope for Israel to play in the Arab world?

Dennis: "That it is not sending moral Olympians like me but economic development of Palestine that will that will stop the celebration of people who blow up children... Marx lives. The notion that economics determines morality. One has to visit the temple of the Left to believe such nonsense.

"We were attacked by wealthy Arabs on 9/11. The leader terrorist of the world [Osama Bin Laden] is a billionaire. He makes more than any university professor.

"This notion that if we only give them lightrail and clean up the sewage in the refuge camps they will stop celebrate death. It is painful to hear it is so wrong. Why the hell are there refugee camps? Has there ever been a more disgusting treatment of one's fellow ethnics than Arabs of Palestinians?"

Majority applaud.

"I have never argued that Israel has never committed any immoralities. I'm sure that Israelis engage in immorality as much as any other group on earth. I am sure they could treat Palestinians with much greater respect at checkpoints, for example. But the comparison between the cultures is not comparable. One is death-oriented and one is life-oriented. This is not demonizing. They are self-demonizing.

"What role? With peace, it will be perfectly understandable. Palestinians will meet Israelis. Israelis will meet Palestinians. With the low level of Jewish identity among many secular Israelis, there will be a vast amount of intermarriage. If the Arabs had been smart in 1948, they would've accepted the small state of Israel and it would've assimilated except for some ultra-Orthodox Jews.

"But it is moral sewage cleanup, not physical sewage cleanup that is necessary in that part of the world.

"I know Hitler and Arafat are dead. I feel like obituaries are being read to me. It's really helpful for the discussion. Arafat is dead. Palestinians now believe in life. I'm happy I came to UCLA."

Widespread laughter and applause.

Dr. Myers: "You're saying don't get up [and let Palestinians suffer]. It is not our responsibility and it is not in our interest. No."

Dennis: "I, who don't want to lecture Middle Easteners what to do, can hardly be accused of lecturing from Olympian heights. I object to this whole thing of people sitting in LA telling Israelis and Palestinians what to do. And I'm being chided for speaking from Olympian heights?

"I don't think we have anything to say to these people. It is not our business. We have meddled all the time to bail them out from dealing with one another. The West has given the Palestinians billions of dollars, which we don't know where they are because Arafat hid them in Swiss banks. But this doesn't matter in Palestinian culture. The West is responsible. Not the Saudis with their gourging oil prices..."

"Abbas is the duly elected president of the Palestinians and Israel has to talk to him [no matter what Abbas has said or done].

"I live with reality, but I don't fool myself about the moral stature of those I have to deal with. The Palestinians have given evil a new name.

"I believe Abbas is better than Arafat.

"Dr. Myers quoted Abbas in Haaretz [saying the Holocaust was a tragedy]... I'd be interested if that was broadcast in any Palestinian medium in Arabic. What Palestinians say to gullible Israelis, gullible Jews in universities, and elsewhere, and what they say in Arabic to their own people have never had any similarity.

"I'd love to hear him say that six million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust and nothing comparable has taken place with Arabs. It is inconceivable that that would be said."

The crowd is overwhelmingly well-behaved for such an emotional topic.

Each man gets a five-minute closing statement.

Dennis: "Christian Palestinians are as nationalistic as Muslim Palestinians, but there is a moral gulf between the average Christian Palestinian and the average Muslim Palestinian. No Christian Palestinian believe that they go to Heaven and Jesus blesses them if they blow up Jewish children. If you can not see this moral gulf, you are willfully blind.

"Thanks for having me."

Huge applause.

6:40pm. I walk past Prager. He's walking to his car with his wife. He's surrounded by a dozen students. I overhear him tell one young woman, "There's a lot of suffering in the world... We can't..."

I'm out of earshot.

Debate draws cheers from supporters on both sides

Here's the bloodless UCLA Daily Bruin article, which fails to mention the crowd cheered one person (Prager) far more than the other.

UCLA history Professor David Myers called for support of a two-state system for Israelis and Palestinians in the debate with radio host Dennis Prager, who emphasized what he believes is the moral gulf between Israelis and Palestinians and the idealistic view of the world held by university communities.

Myers and Prager both expressed support for peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians in the debate which focused largely on Myers and Prager's different views of Palestinians.

During the debate, Myers argued for a two-state solution which he claimed is "not only ideal, but necessary for peace."

Myers said economic support for a viable Palestinian state is needed to encourage peace between Israelis and Palestinians. "Support for Israel is not exclusive of support for Palestine," Myers said.

Myers also advocated for the withdrawal of the Israel-occupied Gaza strip and the West Bank. "The economic, political and moral cost of occupation is too high," Myers said.

Prager, on the other hand, claimed that the majority of Palestinians will not accept peace with a Jewish state and that Palestinian culture tolerates and honors terrorists. In his rebuttal, Myers warned against a demonized view of Palestinians, saying it is "dangerous and should be avoided."

UCLA alumna Jeannine Frank said she believed Myers was at a disadvantage because he was more serious. Frank called Prager's statements regarding Palestinians "inciteful."

"I believe that the Islam faith does not support suicide bombings. For him to state that this is a part of their culture just can't further peace. It's unsettling to hear someone with such charisma and with a national platform to make statements that are so provocative," Frank said.

Dr. David Myers Emails Dennis Prager

On Tuesday, 5/3/05, Dennis said on his radio show that he won Monday's debate against Dr. Myers.

On Wednesday, 5/4, Dennis read an email from Dr. Myers, which the professor said could be read on DP's radio show as long as he read it in full:

I tuned into your show this morning. Come on, man. You're continuing last night's delusion. You didn't win the debate or persuade a single mind. You simply played to an audience who could've predicted every word out of your mouth because they've heard the shtick before.

As for new ideas, you did give us one -- your barely concealed hatred for Muslims. Sure, there is "a beautiful Muslim here and there," but as a lot, they're rotten, right? After all, compare them to Christians. It's true we don't get much of that coarse prejudice in universities these days.

What you don't get is that hating Muslims, i.e., considering them of a lower moral order, is not good for Jews. Demonizing Palestinians doesn't help Israel either, nor does it make you more Jewish. What it does is allow you to pander to an audience that shares your disturbing prejudice. It also moves you halfway down the path to Meir Kahane, who you actually took on in an earlier and more more mora incarnation. If this kind of marketing and group hatred constitutes victory for you, God help us.

Dennis: "The superficiality and idiocy of this letter is only possible at the university. So I've invited the professor on so we can debate this. This is how the Left thinks. He is a perfect paragon of it. If you believe there is a moral difference between civilizations, you therefore hate all the members of that other civilization. This is how the Left engages in moral equivalence."

At 11:06am, Dr. Myers phoned in.

Dennis: "Dr. Myers, I consider it a foolish letter because you do not understand the difference between moral comparison and group hatred. But you have the floor."

Dr. Myers: "You engage in sweeping and dangerous group characterizations, which fail to distinguish between Islam, the great world religion, and Muslims as a whole, on the one hand, and those who interpret Islam in an errant and diabolical fashion.

"Jews throughout much of the medieval and early modern period faired considerably better under Islam than they did under Christianity. There was not a tradition of Crusades, of demonization of the Jews, of forced conversion.

"We cannot ascribe sweeping fixed categories to one group of people. That is what I found most disturbing about our debate and that is something we should discuss."

Dennis: "I don't know why you found it disturbing because I did not mention Islam once [in Monday's debate]. I had nothing to say about Islam, which is a great religion. I have something to say about Palestinian society vis-a-vis Israeli society. That there is no moral comparison between the two. That you think that they are morally equivalent is part of the reason I think that kids are getting moral nonsense taught to them at university."

Dr. Myers: "I don't think that they are morally equivalent."

Dennis: "So you believe Israel is a morally superior society to Palestinian society?"

Dr. Myers: "Suicide bombing is an abomination."

Dennis: "That is irrelevant to my point. Do you believe that they are morally equivalent societies?"

Dr. Myers: "I don't believe that they are morally equivalent societies because it is very difficult to measure the degree of morality of a society."

Dennis: "You are not prepared to say Israel is a morally better society than the Palestinians?"

Dr. Myers: "I am not prepared to say that the entirety of the population is morally superior..."

Dennis: "Oh, come on. That was demagoguery. Nobody said every Israeli or every Palestinian. I'm talking the sum total. Are gays treated better? Women treated better? Dissenters treated better in Israel?"

Dr. Myers: "We have different ideas of what constitutes morality."

Dennis: "I agree with you."

Dr. Myers: "I believe morality is individual and is measured by action."

Dennis: "Mine too."

Dr. Myers: "To inveigh against Palestinian society constantly... I would call your attention to, you as an advocate of situational ethics, should take stock of the fact that attitudes change. For example, you suggest that a majority of Palestinians support suicide bombing. I would suggest you take a look at the most recent survey (March 2005) by Shitaki..., the most important demographer in Palestinian society and will be teaching at Brandeis University next year, shows that Palestinian support for suicide bombing has plummeted to 29%. That is far too high."

Dennis: "Plummeted from what?"

Dr. Myers: "Seventy seven percent. When the window of opportunity for peace is open, there will be a significant shift in attitude, including in the support for suicide bombing."

Dennis: "When it was 77%, would you have been prepared to say that there was a moral gulf between Israel and the Palestinians?"

Dr. Myers: "I would've been prepared to say then that that was extremely disturbing."

Dennis: "I don't care whether it was disturbing. I'm not talking about emotions. I'm for negotiations and the withdrawal from Gaza."

Dr. Myers: "When there is a movement towards peace, there is a shift in attitudes."

Dennis: "That's not why. The shift in attitudes came because it [suicide bombing] was worthless and useless. It did nothing but make the Israelis weaker and make the Palestinians look like [evil]."

Dr. Myers: "When there are changes in historical conditions, there are also changes in moral attitudes."

Dennis: "You have been incapable throughout this dispute, when it was at 79% [support for suicide bombing], that there was a moral gulf between Israel and its enemies. That moral equivalence is what is typical of what is taught at the university. You are an example of it."

Dr. Myers: "I see the university as a place where diverse, important life-saving research takes place...

"I am very unsettled by something in your representation of the university. You inveigh against the university repeatedly. I don't know the way of radio, so you will have to instruct me. And yet you a pitchman, and a very effective one, for a college preparatory course. Is not the end result of a college preparatory course entry into a university?"

Dennis: "I'm asked that all the time. I have contempt for the liberal arts, not the natural sciences. The rejection of the ability to search for truth... When the president of Harvard says one possible reason for the lack of women in engineering and science is that male and female brains differ in those aptitudes and he is pillored as though he is a medieval inquisitor..."

Dr. Myers: "We are not to study language, history... These are liberal arts."

Dennis: "No. Are you available for more or do you have to go?"

Dr. Myers: "No. I have to go teach a class."

Dennis: "Do I have the time in your class that I gave you on my show?"

Dr. Myers, after a pause: "You have ten minutes in my class."

Dennis: "I would give you more on this..."

Fade to four minutes of advertising.

Dennis: "One can say, this is a safer neighborhood than the other neighborhood. Every major city has safer and less safe neighborhoods. Do you hate the people in the less safe neighborhood? It's a non-sequitar. One hates all members of a civilization that one thinks is on a morally-lower plane? Isn't a society that protects its women on a higher plane than a society that doesn't?"

A caller points out it was contradictory of Dr. Myers to argue that medieval Muslim society treated Jews better than medieval Christian society and then say you could not assess a society's morality.

Jerry, an acquaintance of mine and a student of Dr. Myers, phones in and says how wonderful his professor is.

Dennis: "There is nothing more frightening than a person living in a decent society who is unable to judge the difference between decent and indecent societies. [Dr. Myers] is a gentleman with scary ideas.

"We may agree on the roadmap to peace but he still scares the daylights out of me...because he can not say the United States is morally superior."

What Do You Say When You Learn Your Friend Is Undergoing Chemo-Therapy?

My mother died of cancer when I was four. I've known a lot of people who've undergone chemotherapy and the like.

I don't pour out concern when I hear the news. My response is almost always, "Oh." And then I take my cues from the person I'm conversing with.

This is both natural to my instincts to listen rather than to try to console (listening is my form of consoling), as well as my following of Judaism's teachings about entering the home of a mourner. You let the mourner start and direct the conversation. They might want to remember their loved one or they might want to talk about something entirely different. Similarly, someone diagnosed with cancer might want to take the conversation in many different directions.

A friend writes today: "I sort of love the fact that you didn't so much as say, "Oh no." Or "My prayers are with you." Or anything resembling concern. You are a strange bird, though."

Any time I've told someone that I will pray for him it's been meant as a joke.

I'm not arguing my response is the right one. Different responses are natural to different people. I'm not somebody imbued with tremendous common-sense and a take-charge attitude to other people's problems. I'm not a leader. I'm an observer.

I was bed-ridden for six years with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and still struggle with CFS. I try to treat people the way I want to be treated. Instead of spending their time praying for me, they should just buy me a massage (it doesn't even have to have a happy ending).

JMT writes: "It doesn't matter what you say. Just say *something,* and stay in touch. When I went through that, I couldn't believe how little contact I had from some people I considered friends. On the other hand, I had people I hadn't seen for years, even decades, come out of the woodwork and be supportive. People are funny."

Jane writes: "You need to make sure you don't leave the person alone. You visit, you bring food, you help out... It applies to Shiva (mourning the dead) and it applies to Bikur Holim (visiting the sick). You don't need to constantly ask how they're doing, but you do need to ask a few times, you can't just expect them to start talking without a little bit of solicitation. You need to check in, you need to offer help, you need to make clear that you're willing to go out of your way..."

Sue Fishkoff's The Rebbe's Army

Vicki writes:

I just read your commentary and interview with Sue Fishkoff when I googled her name. I bought her book and read it as I wanted to understand the Lubavitch better as I have just finished a three year litigation with a Lubavitch so called rabbi. I agree she missed a lot of negative points. Please read my blog on my case. I will add in a few days a link to the Judge's decision which is priceless. I am new to this blogging and would love to get more exposure for my blog as eventhough I won I am not done with them, he is still my landlord.

The Void Inside

I have this big emptiness inside that I am always trying to fill by blogging about myself, self-publishing books about myself, Googleing my name every week, checking Technorati daily for any reference to me, checking my email every five minutes, posting on chat boards to get a reaction...

I just realized how empty my life by emailing somebody who I expected had SpamBlock. And I found myself thinking, "Good, I know I will get a reply, because I will get that automatic reply from a spam blocker."

One of the things I hate about pitching an article is that half the times I do it, I get no reply. And when I do get a reply, it tends to come after a week or so. I so hate rejection (because my sense of my own worth is so fragile), that I rarely pitch editors with stories and I rarely ask out women I'm interested in (if I think they are too beautiful or too good for me).

Women like being mothers but say they get no respect

Mothers across the country like being mothers, but they also tend to feel underappreciated and less valued by society, according to a study on motherhood being released Monday.

Those sentiments may not have changed much for moms through the decades, but these findings come at a time when women who work outside the home and stay-at-home moms are both stressed from parenting pressures and the need to better balance their lives. The research conducted in January and February by the University of Connecticut and the University of Minnesota, found that 81% are "very" satisfied with life as a mother. But of the 2,000 mothers surveyed (41% employed full time and 21% part-time), 33% said their ideal work situation would be working part-time; 30% said working for pay from home; and 21% said not working at all.

Nearly one in five (19%) also said they felt less valued by society since becoming a mother.

Dennis said the headline and lead were misleading if only one in five mothers feel less valued.

Dennis says: What percentage of men would say they felt valued by society because of their work? And men don't usually have the choice to stay at home and be dads. How much respect would we give a fulltime dad? Dennis can't remember meeting a fulltime dad (then he remembers Andre Bologh, the violinist and fulltime dad, married to a doctor).

DP: We get far more stories about women's problems than men's problems because women complain more. You have an entire department at university devoted to women complaining -- women's studies.

Dennis and a caller said it was usually women who give a hard time to women who leave work to devote themselves to their children and home.

Prager says it is not motherhood as such that is less respected but anything to do with children (as opposed to Israel where teachers are venerated). There's a dearth of child psychiatrists, according to an article Prager read years ago. There was a quote that there was less prestige in child psychology than adult psychiatry (even though child psychiatry requires more training).

Then Prager started thinking -- an elementary school teacher gets less respect than a high school teacher who gets less respect than a college professor. If you said you taught Medieval Bestiality at the local university, you'd get more respect than fulltime mothering.

One reason is money. Another reason -- what men do, feminists value.

DP: The only groups I know that respect work with children is religious groups. That's the only group that has a fair number of male teachers of young children. In Orthodox Judaism, you will have a lot of rabbis teaching kids (while in public school, male kindergarten teachers make up about 1% of teachers).

DP: When I was in the Soviet Union, half the doctors were women and being a doctor got less respect. Is it true that when women pour into a profession, it gets less respect? Airline pilot gets respect. If half of such pilots were women, would it have less respect?

LF: The Marines are the most respected of the US Armed Forces and they are the most exclusive and least open to women.

A female caller said fulltime mothers who value their own responsibilities are not slighted by others' opinions.

The wife of Prager's producer Allen Estrin, Susie, does an ad with Dennis for Regenex (to regenerate thinning hair, just what I need).

Dennis Prager Debates Dr. David Myers At UCLA 5pm

Talk radio host Dennis Prager and UCLA History Professor David Myers will debate issues concerning current and future Israeli society, with moderator Dr. Berky Nelson, Director of Student Activities. Dr. Myers and Mr. Prager will discuss their views on the current situation and their visions for future Israel. Speakers will also address questions from the audience. Monday, May 2nd in Moore 100. This event will begin PROMPTLY at 5:00 p.m. and ends at 6:30.

L.A. Man Needs Woman To Celebrate Air Supply Anniversary

LOS ANGELES (Wireless Flash) – If you’re a smart, funny woman who is free on May 12, a man in Los Angeles wants to take you out on a date. As long as you like the 1980s soft rock group Air Supply.

May 12 marks the 30th anniversary that Air Supply members Russell Hitchcock and Graham Russell started a partnership that created hits like “Lost In Love,” “All Out Of Love” and “Every Woman In The World.”

One person particularly touched by the band is an Australian journalist named Luke Ford, who says Air Supply songs articulate what he “feels about love but rarely experiences.”

He wants to honor the band’s anniversary by taking a woman out to a vegan restaurant and a walk along the beach while engaging in “meaningful conversation with no distancing devices.”

Ford hopes the experience revives his romantic side, which he says has been dormant ever since a woman reprehended him for sending flowers too soon in a relationship.

Ford hopes the woman is attractive but says “more than 15 lbs. overweight is not a problem.”

Khunrum writes: "Good going Luke. I boinked several fatties before switching to Asian women. They usually have low self esteem and therefore are easier to get horizontal. Just thing of the deep footprints she'll leave in the sand during your romantic walk along the beach. Why not do this again on the university of Aussie puke rockers. The LRB...When Little River Band formed in 1975, Australia immediately took notice."

Lionel Hutz writes on Velvet Rope: "Reprehended? What does that mean?"

JMassif writes: "It's the reprehensible reprimand... the lowest and meanest kind... like when you put the wrong woman's name on a bouquet of spring wildflowers."

Dannya writes: "Wow. And I thought my life was meaningless and pathetic."

JMassif writes: "Just because he's a vegan Air Supply fan looking for love on a message board about Air... .... oh... yeah, damn he IS a loser ..."

Luke replies: "I am not a loser. I am a highly respected journalist."

Corey3D writes: "This is pathetic. This guy is using any excuse to whore up his career and try to get his hands in a vegan gal's pants."

Play it loud!

I can make the run or stumble,
I can make the final block;
And I can make every tackle, at the sound of the whistle,
I can make all the stadiums rock.
I can make tonight forever,
Or I can make it disappear by the dawn;
And I can make you every promise that has ever been made,
And I can make all your demons be gone.

But I’m never gonna make it without you,
Do you really want to see me crawl?
And I’m never gonna make it like you do,
Making love out of nothing at all

Mike Albo writes:

This is the most pathetic thing we've heard in quite a spell. We asked a female acquaintance how she would interpret this story, and this is what she told us.

"This is a guy so desperate he has to advertise for a date. Girls don't like desperate guys. He has feminine taste in music. He sounds like one of those overly 'sensitive' guys. A vegan? A walk on the beach? Sent a woman flowers 'too soon?' Very girlish."

And how do we interpret her comments? "Luke is a fag." But, to be truthful, we've always had our suspicions.

From Velvet Rope.com:

Hmm, not bad but what's with the cat?

What, it isn't obvious? "I like Air Supply. I have to make public pleas for dates. Here's me holding a picture of a cat."

Translation: I AM A PUSSY.

“meaningful conversation with no distancing devices.”

Is that some sort of recent LA psychobable that translated = Please wear a skirt on our date? ...or... some sort of recent LA psychobable that translated = I am a pussy? Please clear this up for me so I can be hip.

JMassif writes: It's actually translated as: "Please don't wear a skirt on our date, as I'll be the pussy wearing one."

Zero Interest writes:

Here are some of the "distancing devices" Mr. Ford is looking to avoid.

LA Times pop music critic Robert Hilbrun writes today: "Between these extremes, other Coachella acts dealt with love in various forms, such as the gentler, rock-noir style of the Raveonettes, the Danish team with lots of Phil Spector and Blondie influences, and the superficial romanticism of Keane, a British band that reaches for the beauty of Coldplay but sometimes ends up as slight as Air Supply."

The Sacred and the Profane

Is David Milch confident that the colorful language his characters speak on 'Deadwood' is authentic? You're darn tootin' he is. And he thinks they're slowly learning about the sanctity of community.

By Sheli Teitelbaum in The Jerusalem Report

During more than two decades spent disparaging various ethnic, religious and racial minorities, in acclaimed TV cop shows like "Hill Street Blues" and "NYPD Blue," screenwriter David Milch often reserved his deadliest venom for his fellow Jews.

If "NYPD Blue's" detective Andy Sipowicz (Dennis Franz), for instance, began the series, which ran from 1993 to 2005 on ABC, as a drunken, xenophobic lout, in his way, the Polish-American Andy was as endearing and, ultimately, as redeemable as his spiritual forebear Archie Bunker.

The show's Jews, however - characters like district attorney Maury Abrams, or ADAs Arnold Rosenthal and Leo Cohen - often came across as amoral, self-interested and just plain snooty enough to almost, almost justify the self-described Polack's congenital anti-Semitism.

For many years, Milch, who is 60, attested that he gave all his characters a tough time, and that his Jews were not a special case. That is, he told The Report in a recent interview in his Santa Monica office, until an academic presented him with a dissertation asserting that no one who wasn't Jewish himself would ever have crafted Jewish characters as unpleasant as Milch's.

"Once it was pointed out to me," Milch recounted, while seeking a comfortable position for his troubled back on his office floor, "it seemed to me irrefutably a pattern in my work. My Jewish characters were unpleasant because I've only been sober for six years. The [familial] resentments that I had, [and] which I hesitated to apply to individuals, I generalized to a group."

Agunot (Chained Women) Are The Way To Go

It'll just be our little secret. Now I'm off to meet the Sabbath bride.

The Big Book of Jewish Conspiracies Is Pure Torture

Big Book is the worst book on Judaism I've ever read. It's even worse than Nothing Sacred by Douglas Rushkoff.

A page into the first chapter, I felt a depression settling over me as I realized I would have to struggle through another 256-pages of these lame jokes simply because this book was written by my friends (friends in the loose Los Angeles sense).

Yes, there were a few moments where I chuckled but oy ve this thing was heavy lifting without reward.

It reminded me of being stuck in Kalamazoo?, waiting around for desserts I couldn't eat because it was Passover and for women I couldn't touch because of my religious beliefs (and the fear that they'd call the police on me if I did).

I found Big Book to be a tiresome exercise akin to writing an essay (a form I hate) for somebody else who's going to have ultimate authority over my words, have me rewrite them several times, then force me to come up with a conclusion (at which point I quit because I do not want to be didactic about parts of my life). OK, this was my experience with Dave Deutsch as my editor at Heeb magazine, but that's not why I am being nasty now. I just really hate this book on its own demerits.

I fear that Heeb Editor/Publisher Joshua Neuman created a monster when he called Dave "the world's worst Jewish comedian." To any normal man who wanted to be funny, this title would've been taken as the grossest insult, but for Dave it only encouraged him...and now we have this awful book destined for remainder shelves.

Halfway through, I lay down on my floor and took a nap, hoping to rid myself of the burden I felt to compose questions for Dave in our upcoming interview. But there's absolutely nothing I want to know. In fact, the less I know about the composition of this book (like the composition of Kalamazoo?) the better. The less said about this book the better. I shouldn't even be writing this entry.

I felt so upset I couldn't rest and was driven to my keyboard by my commitment to truth (and that verse in Leviticus about not standing by while your neighbors are bored) to warn my readers about the sheer awfulness of Big Book. Frankly, the works of the late William Pierce are much more entertaining.

It's because of books like Big Book that gas chambers were built.

I won't be surprised if some rednecks tie Dave and Josh to a pickup truck and drag them around Manhattan until they promise not to publish anymore.

I am not endorsing this type of behavior. I just say that I would understand it.

Dave Deutsch writes:

But you think it can at least make it to the remainder shelves, right? And geez, Luke, I'm willing to tolerate almost any slur, but worse than Nothing Sacred? Maybe those ANZACs really did die for nothing.

To be honest, Luke, I am pissed off by the review. Much of it, I'll admit, is because I think you have a good sense of humor, so that in some ways, I'm more upset by how much you disliked the book than the fact that you said how much you disliked it. There is, however, also an element of...betrayal is too strong a word, but perhaps surprise.

To be sure, I sent you a book, and asked you to review it, so I recognize that I'm hoisted on my own petard. I know we're not "friends," although I would have thought that you'd give me some credit for saving your ass during the LA Riots when that angry mob came upon you while you were building homes in South Central for Habitats for Humanity. But we are reasonably friendly acquaintances, and I would have hoped that even if you were going to pan the book, you might have tempered it somewhat. For example, when you asked me if I thought your penis was ludicrously small, I said "No.," since I knew the truth would bother you. But I wasn't actually lying, since, under my breath, I muttered "for a five year old girl." I also mentally included that weird, dripping pustule, which added a little bit of girth to it.

Now, you might be thinking that it's not really the same thing, because if you didn't say what you felt was the truth, somebody might read my book, but what are the chances that, even without a warning from me, any woman would see your penis? But you could have simply said you didn't like it, or even that you hated it--but worse than Rushkoff? At least we did some research for our book, and it didn't claim to replace divine truth. And we have pictures. But even if it were true, you could have prefaced it with "I was surprised by how bad the book was, because usually David Deutsch is a funny guy..."

And that's the part that really bothered me, since it's one thing to criticize the book, but suggesting that I'm not funny? That puts you in a difficult place, as an intrepid teller of truths. Because either you've been leading me on for the last couple of years (and would it be gauche to note that our anniversary is Yom Hashoah--thanks for the present, Luke) by leading me to believe you thought I was amusing, or you're misleading your readers now.

WWASD*, Luke?

* WWASD? What Would Air Supply Do?

In This Week's Torah Portion We Learn About The Exodus From Egypt

Rabbis Dave Deutsch and Joshua Neuman translate the ancient Hebrew into the modern idiom in their new work, The Big Book of Jewish Conspiracies:

As the Hebrews passed by, organizers for the United Hebrew Trades convinced the Nubian slaves working the buckets to join them. In a last act of defiance, they broke open the Reed Sea Dam, and the swamp began to fill in again, just as the Egyptian army arrived. Trapped in the rapidly filling swamp, the army soon became the navy, and a very unsuccessful navy, what with the drowning, poor navigation skills, and discomfort with the whole situational homosexuality thing.

Every Saturday morning in a traditional synagogue, we read aloud the Haftorah (which translates into English as the Book of Profits). In this week's portion, we cover the story of David Vs. Goliath:

"David's so beautiful, so pure," sighed an Israelite woman.

You should have seen him three years ago, thought Samuel the Prophet, as he nodded to one of his runners to go and lay another bet on David.

When Samuel -- who was known as "the Prophet" because of his seemingly uncanny ability to predict the outcome of sporting events...

Rabbis Deutsch and Neuman tackle the Jesus story in their new book:

He was known for his smooth tongue, a skill that translated to great success with the ladies, as an epidemic of "virgin births" during his two years on campus would confirm.

Then there was the time that he was caught in Flagrante Delicto with Cindy Magdalene, Mary's sluttier young sister. Although it wasn't grounds for expulsion, it could have resulted in Galilee House losing its charter, but when Jesus defended himself by asking the council, "Let he who has been without Cindy cast the first stone," even Dean Pilate had to look away shamefacedly.

Will Hollywood buy 'Kalamazoo?' Not Likely

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- After several years in the making, the feature-length film comedy "Kalamazoo?" was shown for the first time Thursday night to a private Hollywood audience. The question now is: Will the general public ever see it in theaters?

Probably not.

While the city's landmarks, parks and businesses looked good in the film, the story bothered Sue Flakes, a writer and film director. "It had some memorable moments," she said, "but it was comedy and it was serious, too. And to be honest, I'd like it to just be one or the other."

"It didn't work," freelance journalist and author Luke Ford said afterward. "I wanted to like it, but it didn't take (me) anywhere emotionally. ... It was really cliched. They all reach inside and get in touch with themselves. You'd think they'd (the filmmakers) come up with something different."

Kalamazoo? Bombs

No wonder nobody wanted to go with me to this movie. It stunk.

The premiere was scheduled for 7:30pm at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science at the Samuel Goldwyn Theatre at 8949 Wilshire Blvd. I've been to premieres there three times before and never liked a film yet. I only get invited to such a cool place when they are desperate to fill seats.

I wanted to make sure I could find easy street parking, so I arrived at 6:35pm and sat in my van and read for 40-minutes. After I get out and walk the 20-yards to Wilshire Blvd, this big black man drives up and asks me if I'm going to the premiere. I say yes. He asks me where he should park. I don't know. I suggest he drive around.

Once the movie gets going, I find out the black man was one of the actors.

I sit between two women -- a writer and a cameraman's assistant. I chat them both up, but once the movie finishes, the writer leaves. I turn to the remaining woman and say, "Nice camera angles."

She stares straight ahead. I keep my gaze. Finally she turns and looks at me with the neutral expression you give a mad man. I beat it down to the dessert table. Unfortunately, because of Passover, I can't eat anything but strawberries.

As I sip a cup of decaf coffee, a tall handsome man filled with Mid-Western goodness approaches me. He says he's Matt Jakubowski, staff writer for the Kalamazoo Gazette. I guess it is a real town of about 70,000 people in Michigan. Writer/producer Joanna Clare Scott and producer Dana E. Kowalski are from there. (I wince whenever I see a Polish name because I'm having terrible luck with Polish women this month.)

Matt asks me my opinion of the movie. I say it was a complete flop. It's a shame that Joanna and Dana would devote years of their lives to this (it's about their only credit) because the movie said nothing. It was a tissue of cliches. Why devote so much of yourself (the movie was obviously a personal statement for the women producers, and the show tonight was co-sponsored by Women in Film) to something where you have nothing to say?

I know I'm in trouble with a movie when there's only one character I want to date (Josie Davis) and even here my urge wasn't so intense that it hurt. I mean, I wouldn't have thrown her out of shul for eating crackers during Passover, but...

I guess this movie is a big deal in Kalamazoo, but I doubt it will have meaning anywhere else.

The crowd of about 500 people seemed largely made up of family and friends of the people behind the movie. And their reaction was subdued. At the end, there was only a smattering of applause. Many people fled the building rather than lie to the makers about how much they enjoyed the film.

The main problem was with the script. It had nothing to say. The actors did the best they could.

March Book Sales

XXX-Communicated: 3
The Producers: 1
Yesterday's News Tomorrow: 1

Behind The Scenes At eYada.com

From Lukeford.net Wire Services Ltd:

Late in the year 2000, the staff of now-defunct internet radio network eYada.com ebulliently played its first and last company softball game. New York Met Keith Hernandez stood at the plate, and despite drizzly weather, Team eYada was jazzed a sense of privileged media insiderism. Host Bob Berkowitz, formerly of CNBC, coached first base. New York Yankee Mike Mussina's brother, Mark Mussina, co-host of a sports show, played left field. On the sidelines sat Daily News gossip columnist/eYada host Joanna Molloy.

Hernandez hit a dribbler to the pitcher, shook hands with the employees, and disappeared. Shortly thereafter the game broke up. It was later revealed that Hernandez was paid for his guest innings in eyada's game.

In a similar spirit, at approximately 4:00 pm on January 7, eYada.com CEO Bob Meyerwitz, who once hosted the King Biscuit Flower Hour and had made a fortune on ultimate fighting, assembled a meeting of the staff in eYada's state-of-the-art Times Square offices, where a zip sign on the wall cycled the words: "Live Streaming Now." Proclaimed Meyerwitz, "For many of you this will be your last day."

And so it came to pass. Among the casualties were host Michael Lewittes, of US Magazine and other publications too numerous to mention. During his tenure, the then-New York Post columnist sat in his glass studio, refusing to take guests, regaling his audiences with hot juicy morsels of celebrity poop. Often he sang a self-authored theme song: "If it's a little comedy you're after, Michael Lewittes will supply the laughter/ Call me, call me toll-free at eYada. It won't cost a dime -- I'm talkin' nada!" In point of fact, according to eYada insiders, that's just about how many listeners the Yale-educated, devoutly Jewish, Upper East Side native Lewittes had.

Following the wave of firings that included Lewittes, eYada was left with 12 shows and 50 employees. According to one insider, "When eYada started in the fall of 1999, Meyerwitz apparently thought he had a business that would change the face of talk radio. Listeners could actually hear and watch their hosts on their computer screen. Chase Capital was so taken with the plan, they dumped 25-mil into the concept. Sure, there was money, and eYada was not shy about tossing it around. Some hosts made more than six figures. Others hosts and producers made yearly salaries of $65k."

Eyada shelled out for events as well, spending an estimated $40,000 on the first- and last-ever "gossip summit," in which gossip writers from all over the country were invited to discuss "the state of gossip in the Millenium" at Shelley's, a 57th Street eatery. Richard Johnson of Page Six, George Rush and Joanna Molloy of the Daily News, and of course the ubiquitous Michael. Out of town gossipists were flown in and lodged at eYada's expense. Oz star and former Hell's Angel Chuck Zito provided "security."

Attendees walked down a red carpet and were greeted by actors paid to pose as paparazzi. Inside, a lush buffet disgorged jumbo shrimp, roasted duck and the open bar dispensed cocktails in abundance. The event garnered wide media attention including spots on Entertainment Tonight and Access Hollywood.

The dot.com shakeout was already under way, but Myerowitz, according to insiders, believed eYada to be an exception

Still, in early January and February, 2001, eYada started to unravel. Nineteen shows, mostly ones dedicated to sports and health and fitness, were canceled. Pink-slipped were marathon runner Grete Weitz and Kevin Cook, the well-respected contributor to Sports Illustrated and other major market mags. Several of eYada's 40k-a-year BBS operators were let go as well.

To create an illusion of a full and functioning operation, Meyerowitz had the skeleton staff moved from a back office and into the newsroom. Although eYada still had about 60,000 listeners a week, advertising numbers were negligible. Recalled an eYada insider, "One ad exec finished listening to an eYada rep's polished pitch, then went to his window and let out a primal scream, informing the salesman that more people heard him than would ever hear his eYada ad. Eyada's months-old billboard ads, depicting men in a sauna, stayed up because none had been purchased to replace them.

Trying to forestall the inevitable, eYada's marketing director used guerilla tactics to reign in listeners, such as posting celebrity interviews on the GO TO site. If a listener clicked onto eyada through the link, eYada paid Go To pennies for each listener. Meanwhile, producers were ordered to send out eYada links to as many sites as possible. Recalled an insider, "Howard Stern fan sites seemed to be the most productive. Ultimately eYada got its biggest boost of exposure from the King of All Media ---particularly Stern Wack Packer-turned-eYada host Chaunce Hayden, who convinced Stern to tell his millions of listeners to log on to eYada.

Stern predicted that eYada's server would be unable to handle the heavy usage and crash. For 17 minutes, eYada's "15 minutes," eYada stayed afloat on Stern's show. Hayden, with a pomp and circumstance usually reserved for unrolling Torah scrolls, implored Stern's in-studio strippers to fish out their breasts.

The simulcast-like arrangement was costly: eYada was paying for each listener to stream the show, but the post-Stern show numbers hovered around 300,000 listeners a week.

By summer, four of eYada's 11 shows were dedicated to sex. On the Thursday before the July 4th weekend, Meyerwitz announced that that eYada was on its last legs. Chase Capital was wavering and not putting forth more money. "The fat lady is standing," he said at a hastily called staff meeting. Meyorwitz proclaimed that he would make one desperate attempt to get the money.

Meanwhile, in a publicity-seeking frenzy, host Chaunce Hayden, parroting the Stern show, encouraged a guest to defecate in his hands. Despite Hayden's hands poised athwart her buttocks, the woman was only able to deliver two blasts of flatulence as nauseated eYada staffers sat by in shock.

Shortly thereafter, Meyerowitz pulled the plug on eYada, dismissing his staff with no severance and the words, "The fat lady has sung."

I've Lost My Mojo

I'm going to a movie premiere tonight. I've asked half-a-dozen different women to accompany me. Some women with honorable professions and some with other professions. Some white and some not-white. Some Jewish and some goyish. But there was one thing they all had in common -- and that was their reply: "No."

Google and NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder) are killing me.

'If Women Show, Men Can Look'

If women wear revealing clothing, men can look, says Dennis Prager on his radio show. He referred to the case in Atlantic City where various employees used security cameras at a casino to focus on women wearing revealing clothing. "It is crass for the guy to ogle, but the notion that the woman wearing revealing clothing is a victim is not intellectually honest," says Prager.

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- Four more surveillance camera operators at Caesars Atlantic City Hotel Casino used the equipment to ogle women, according to a complaint filed Tuesday.

In December, the same casino was fined $80,000 for similar incidents involving two other camera operators who trained their eye-in-the-sky cameras on low-cut blouses and revealing clothing instead of craps games and slot parlors.

The hidden cameras, required by law in New Jersey casinos, keep tabs on all aspects of casino floor operations as a way to deter and prosecute theft, embezzlement, cheating and other crimes.

In a 2001 case, two women told the state Division of Civil Rights that they were fired by Caesars after complaining about voyeuristic camera work by surveillance department co-workers, who they said looked for low-cut necklines or revealing clothing on women playing at table games or riding escalators.

Female callers say they are sick of women acting like victims. If women are showing their breasts, then they should expect male attention to that part of their anatomy.

Is Yori Yanover The Constitution Man?

Over the past nine months, there's been a lot of nasty anonymous email and spam (often sections of the constitution, a la senator Robert Byrd's favorite filibustering tactic) to such blogs as as the late Protocols, Jewish Whistleblower (JWB), and the Jewish Survivors of Sexual Abuse (JS). This stuff has been attributed by some bloggers (including JS and JWB) to Yori Yanover. I asked him if it was true.

Yori replies:

The site I used to co-edit, JCN18.com, was victimized back in 1996 by a Haifa University professor (we traced him) who uploaded consecutive copies of the Book of Maccabbees, causing countless computers to crash. It was cyber-terrorism and we got the guy to lose his internet privileges from HU.

Every time a user posts a message, he or she leaves their IP number. Any blogging service can trace those to a provider and, using their boilerplate stationary, can obtain the identity of a terrorist. That's how we captured our own terrorist. Another means we used was to limit the number of characters allowed per entry. You can allow quite a bit of text inside, say, 2000 characters. Naturally, this would mean, in Whistleblower's case, that he'd have to publish like everyone else and not in the comments (which I find insane, but, hey, tsa' free country).

On my occasional visits to Whistleblower and on the Protocol site, I've read many, really many postings which were attributed to me without my actually writing them. If you combined, at the time, all the posts for which I was "blamed," the emerging image of a man without a life doing nothing but posting combative messages would be quite disturbing. I own a prosperous business, with clients and a staff of writers and a marketing department, and just recently bought us a Tivo, so I really have other, more productive and entertaining things to do.

At the time I even remember the character Me, who then evolved into WB, tracing every detail of my Google, including posting the name of every business we deal with, urging people to call on them and tell them "the truth" about me. It's amazing that with all the effort that poor miscreant invested, he never got any dirt on me, ever.

The phenomenon was becoming reminicent of the "Goldstein" episodes in Orwell's 1984, when factory workers were assembled evry afternoon to hurl curses at a projected image of the enemy of the state. So this pathetic movement of grownup victims refusing to accept responsibility for their proclivities picked me (and my good friend Hershy) as their Goldstein. So be it. I accept it as the kind of muck that must stick to your feet if you visit the sewer.

While not sympathizing in the least with the plight of anonymous terrorists like Whistleblower (I never visited any of the other sites mentioned by the various wrestlers in the WB arena, and when publishing on WB once did so with my full name), terrorism is not something I do. (Incidentally, unfortunately, my own main machine crashed over the holiday, and I'm working off of my wife's station, and she barely let's read my emails, let alone post the constitution countless times).

Anyway, what impressed me most was the use of my name as a kind of anti-Christ for sex-abuse bloggers. I think I know the answer why: It's because I don't hide behind an anonymous identity like all the cowards in this unholy game. Think about it, in all the many months of this story, your and my names have been the only ones belonging to real human beings in the debate. Everyone else, hosts and posters alike, is a coward.

Makes you wonder about the new meaning of the Mishna in Avot: "In a place where there are no men, you be a man." Have an identity, stand behind your words, don't shy away from the heckling of a madding crowd.

It's high time someone at the Forward covered this phenomenon of the anonymous bloggers and the pathetic terrorists who hurt them back.

That's it for my response. By the way, I LOVED the critique by Dave Deutch which you published. He lives in my neck of the woods but we only met a couple of times, still his entry is excellent.

On his website USAJewish.com, Yori has added jokes as well as explanations of why they are funny.

Fundraising For The First Female-Written Torah Scroll

Jewish metal artists Aimee Gollant and Marsha Plafkin held a fundraiser Wednesday night at the Craft and Folk Art Museum for the Women's Torah Project.

Progressive Seattle congregation Kadima has sent a woman (Aviel Barclay) to Israel to become certified as a scribe (demands great holiness and rectitude) and she's a quarter-way through writing a Torah scroll (the first five books of the Bible).

Every few minutes, Marsha takes a break and brings on cantor Aviva Rosenbloom, the only person in the crowd, aside from me, who's wearing a yarmulke.

Avivia says that when she was hired by Temple Israel (Reform), she was the first full-time female Jewish clergy hired in Los Angeles (about 30 years ago).

When Aimee began speaking to the crowd of about 100, her voice repeatedly and dramatically cracked. I feared she was going to start crying (few things frighten me as much as a woman's tears). I don't think it was public speaking nerves that brought this on but rather the intense emotions she felt talking about her work, her grandparents (Holocaust survivors, the grandpa taught her metal work) and her new faith in God and Torah (brought on by studying the verses of 'Hear O Israel' contained in the mezuzot she crafted).

Aimee will make the crown of the covering around this new scroll. Marsha will make the breastplate. Asked about her design plans, Marsha says, "I am addressing the breast plate. I imagine it will be shapely."

"Torah" is a female word in Hebrew. She is a tree of life to those who hold her close (words we sing in Hebrew when we put the Torah away every Sabbath morning, it's my favorite part of the service).

Everywhere I go, people ask me to write articles about their activities for the Jewish Journal. I don't know how to explain that I am unemployable without prompting them to call the police and take away the madman in their midst.

Folks, if you've got a good story, email AmyK at JewishJournal.com. She's the managing editor and my biggest fan. Just tell her I sent you.

Baby, I was born to blog.

Now I must put on my aluminum beanie cap to receive further instructions from planet Venus.

I have so much love to give (cue Air Supply music). It's a shame I have no better receptacle than this tawdry blog.

Making It To Mickey's Blog

Mickey Kaus writes 4/27: "...human Echelon Project Luke Ford..."

For me to show up in Mickey Kaus's writing is like Air Supply phoning to wish me a happy birthday (I turn 39 May 28) or Michael Kinsley inquiring about me, "What is his story?"

Mickey, Michael and Air Supply have played an enormous role in my life. For 20-years, Mickey and Michael taught me through their writing that opinion journalism can be funny and unpretentious (Cathy Seipp taught me the same thing over the past decade about media criticism) and Air Supply gave me hope that one day there will be two less lonely people in the world.

I had to click on Mickey's link to remember what the Echelon Project was. I guess it is electronic surveillance.

The profiles I keep on people who interest me (the one I did on Mickey is entirely fictitious) are the type of note-keeping I'd appreciate if I had to write about something or somebody for a regular journalism outlet. My profiles rarely have a point and I rarely shape them towards any end (aside from my desire to publish compelling material).

I have to assure some acquaintances that I am not keeping files on them and I will not write on them. Still, I am not as widely welcome as I should be.

What caught English professor Josh Kun's eye about my writing was not the sex or the Torah but my semi-academic tone. As he so eloquently put in his column: "...Ford's ranty, wanna-be-scholarly essays..."

I sent off polite interview requests today to Michael Kinsley and Andres Martinez as part of my ongoing project to raise the level of discussion in Los Angeles. I wonder what these two deep thinkers truly believe about decriminalizing bestiality and allowing people to marry their animal companions. Our society still has a love that dare not speak its name (except in Luke Ford Land, where tolerance reigns).

Last night, Hugh Hewitt mentioned he'd been reading me for years and described me as a pioneering blogger.

Mickey wonders why so few of the bloggers in attendance discussed last night's announcement of a new blogging ad network.

I haven't because I have little business expertise and few tools for knowing how seriously to take the new venture. Also, I don't want to speculate about something that might put money in my pocket.

I don't think I've ever written much about blogging. To me it's just another communication technology and what is important is what you do with it. I'm not a blogger triumphalist and I don't find talk about blogging per se interesting. I find smart people and smart ideas interesting and bloggers qua bloggers are no smarter than cell phone users (though, as blogging is a form of writing, I believe it is inherently beneficial to the person who does it (if he would not otherwise spend his time writing), and the discipline of regular writing should clarify the person's thinking and make him more self-aware).

Panel Discussion Monday - Why The Jews Rejected Jesus

Was Jesus the son of God? Were the Jews culpable in his death? Why did the Jews reject Jesus? On Monday, May 2, at the University of Judaism, author David Klinghoffer; Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson, vice president and dean of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at the University of Judaism; and the Rev. Alexei Smith, director of ecumenical and interreligious affairs of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles will discuss these questions in a panel moderated by Journal Editor in Chief Rob Eshman. 7:30 p.m. $10 (in advance), $15 (at the door). 15600 Mulhulland Drive, Bel Air. For tickets, call (310) 440-1246.

Born To Blog?

A professional journalist friend told me that my blog about my dinner with Michael Kinsley was one thousand times better than an essay I'd written for publication in the Forward (killed at the last minute). He said I was born to blog.

Khunrum writes:

An insult my dear Luke. Blog equals no $$$. Who was born to work for free?

The writer's life is a tough one Luke. Like most who toil in the arts, the appreciation and financial rewards are skimpy. I advised you years ago to get a job that pays decently.....like mail carrier. You could do much worse then the civil service. You could even afford to buy a new van. Remember "what's his name Bukowski" worked for the post office. Start studying for that exam immediately and place yourself on the road to success. It's never too late to be a winner.

Chaim Amalek writes:

He's right - that is patronizing at best. "Oh, let the others write for pay, my dear dear boy. You were meant to work for free, alongside all the other losers in aluminum beanie caps."

LA Press Club Party

Hugh Hewitt was the guest of honor.

He reminds me of former Buzz magazine publisher/editor Allan Mayer. Both are at the top of their professions. They are prolific writers. But it is in their gracious sensibility, good manners and easily-read emotions that that they remind me of each other. With their fair skin, they blush easily. They are most proper (James Wolcott-types might call them supercilious). Whatever Hugh and Allan are feeling is written in big letters across their faces.

Bob Sipchen, Sunday LA Times Op/Ed editor, made the conventional case for newspapers. He appeared completely at ease in a crowd largely hostile to The LAT.

After Sipchen, Mickey Kaus spoke for 30 seconds to the crowd: "It would be a tragedy if newspapers went out of business, but it wouldn't be a tragedy if the L.A. Times went out of business [as whatever replaced it would be better]."

What exactly was Mickey's line here? "The LA Times is like the Lands End catalog of newspapers. They think they are a newspaper, but they're not changing fast enough."

Blogger Patterico had the misfortune of following Kaus, the model of an unpretentious intellectual, and said one-tenth as much as Mickey in ten times as much time (even though he'd been told ahead of time he'd be a featured guest, which should have clued him that he'd be speaking).

Patterico writes me:

You're absolutely right that Mickey Kaus said ten times as much as I did in one-tenth the time. But you're wrong that I should have been clued in that I was going to speak. I had e-mailed Cathy Seipp about that possibility. She e-mailed back that some of the Outside the Tent authors would be introduced, and she hoped we'd ask questions -- but that we wouldn't be speaking formally along with Hugh, as Hugh had implied on his blog. So I felt like I'd been specifically let off the hook.

Of course, there was no way for Cathy to know that Hugh had different ideas. So everyone was subjected to my painful rambling. . .

I promise I'm a great extemporaneous speaker -- when I have time to prepare beforehand!

As soon as I see Brady Westwater, my intuition immediately tells me that this man is a killer (he later confirmed that he is).

The intellectual brain power at the event was high but the number of attractive single young ladies was low.

James Wolcott writes: "Roger Ailes [not the one at Fox News], however, questions Mickey Kaus's presence at the event, since Mickey is not a book author and snipes at the LA Times whenever he has a spare moment, of which he has plenty."

Kaus wrote a highly acclaimed book on reforming welfare -- The End of Equality.

Cathy Seipp reports on the party.

Every time I see Mickey with that hot blonde Kim Serafin (looks 18), I burn with jealousy and remember Michael Kinsley's remark about Mickey's preference for "whacky right-wing blondes."


CosmopolitanLife blog writes:

Men that are single (have never been married) at age 40 are economic underachievers. Women that are single at 40 are economic overachievers. A generalization, and I can point to a few exceptions, but, would you really way this isn't generally true?...

Earlier, my brunette friend wrote:

What do brunettes do on a Saturday evening? They sit around telling dumb blond jokes…

Overheard At The LA Times Book Fair

David Rensin: "So you had dinner with Luke Ford."

Michael Kinsley: "What's his story?"