Druish Princess

Oh, great. That's all we needed...

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Fetch me a Child of Five Bike Rack Review: Toba Romeo

Well, I finally got the thing installed…


It’s a fairly solid rack, and doesn’t weigh much more than the rack that came with my Batavus Utility Bike (henceforth BUB). Not as wide as the traditional dutch luggage rack (or Baker’s Rack) but it comes with a plate and screws for securely attaching a crate and is less expensive than the larger luggage rack…which is why I bought it. Unfortunately, by the time all was said and done, I ended up paying more to get it installed and might as well have just bought the traditional luggage rack, financially speaking.

In fairness, the BUB’s unique rack mounting system, with holes further up the forks, does invite these sorts of compatibility issue, but there is no reason it had to be this much of a three ring circus.

Problem?  The company.

From their website: http://www.tobapeople.com/en/a-propos/ 

(Emphasis mine)

What do you seek? First of all: simplicity. Practical and easy to use accessories that make riding safer and smoother. But you have a discerning taste, and enjoy classic lines and bold design.

TOBA was created for you.

Patrick Giguère is one of the creators of this TOBA line of products. He captured the essence of the tribe: “I really felt there was room for accessories with better design and quality, he stresses. We are focused on developing products that are so simple that a child can put them together and use them.”

You also ride your bicycle in the city because it gives you the feeling of having some control on events. You choose your path, and you can change directions according to your whims and needs.

That’s the why TOBA products so readily adapt to your lifestyle: “This type of product always faced installation problems, since this industry lacks any compatibility standards. Our aim was to develop products that would fit the vast majority of bicycle models on the market”, explains designer Éric Auger.

Did this product meet any of the stated company goals of “simplicity”, “practicality” and “ease of use”? Was it “so simple that a child could put it together and use it?”

Sure…if the child in question has an IQ of 130 and knows all about how to assemble a bicycle and has a full complement of tools including a bike stand, vise and metal drill and an extra long front axle lying conveniently around.

1) Nothing on the packaging to tell you that this rack is designed for a quick-release hub, or that your bike must have eyelets on the front forks to install it. No weight limit listed either. Apparently you must simply be able to know at a glance that it will fit or not. Well, now I know, don’t I? People new to bikes, or who haven’t had one in 20 -30 years and whose parents assembled them way back when, don’t instantly know what will fit.

2) No instructions with the product. Not even a link to online instructions. Not even the company website’s URL printed on the packaging…which would not have changed the price of printing by a penny.

 When you finally find the website, hunt for your rack model and find it, hidden way down the page somewhere is a link to a pdf which, along with the installation instructions, helpfully tells you, now that you have bought the damn thing, that oh, btw, it won’t fit your bike. If you search far enough you find the “alternative installation guide” which requires that you drill through the metal to enlarge the hole, and mount it on your existing axle or, more likely, on a longer than standard axle which assumes you know how to dismantle and reassemble the front end of your bike (I do) and change out the axle (I don’t) and that you have, or know where to buy, a longer axle.

I don’t know what your definition of “simple, practical and easy” is, but this sure didn’t meet mine.

The rack gets a passing grade but only just…the crate mounting screws are ridiculously short and I could barely get my crate attached with them despite its thin bottom. If I had mounted a milk crate, which is what they intended it for, there is simply no way the screws would reach the wingnuts….unless of course I spend even more money to buy the crate they manufacture. New crate or new screws….just more stuff I have to spend more time and money on.

The company, however, gets a big fat zero for making my life unnecessarily complicated and expensive and also for wasting a lot of my time. Won’t be buying from them again.

Thanks here all go to my local bike shop for drilling out the hole and then re-installing it for free after my first attempt on the original axle led to the front wheel no longer turning. Even they didn’t realize it required a quick release hub, or how much bother it would be to get it on. This company may well be lucky if the shop keeps carrying their products, I think.

Filed under Toba bicycle bike front rack Romeo review

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The 'whataboutery' of Israel's defenders

Amen. (First time I’ve said that in any seriousness since last summer)

If Israel’s supporters want me to be as aware of and attentive to every issue worldwide as I am to Israel and Gaza they should pass my email along to the bad propaganda outlets involved in other wars. I guarantee you, if they start filling my inbox with all the rubbish Zionists do, I will end up equally pissed off at them.


'Whataboutery' is a charge normally levelled at opponents of Western military intervention. Here's how it is supposed to go. Western governments ramp up support for military action somewhere, and focus on human rights abuses being committed as a central justification. The anti-war movement then…

Filed under gaza israel whataboutery

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Oh Look, “Journalism”

Here’s some:


And here is more:


How can you tell you’re reading professional, unbiased journalism? By its liberal use of scare quotes when discussing what is in fact the “official” policy of the Canadian government based on the findings and policies of the United Nations.

Canada does not recognize permanent Israeli control over territories occupied in 1967 (the Golan Heights, the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip). The Fourth Geneva Convention applies in the occupied territories and establishes Israel’s obligations as an occupying power, in particular with respect to the humane treatment of the inhabitants of the occupied territories. As referred to in UN Security Council Resolutions 446 and 465, Israeli settlements in the occupied territories are a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. The settlements also constitute a serious obstacle to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace.


And the Canadian government even used the word occupation….get me the vapours, quickly, or I shall swoon!

And they wonder why I won’t pay good money for a subscription….

Filed under journalism gaza israel canada bias of impartiality green party official canadian policy dept of foreign affairs scare quotes

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NDP Breaking Up Over Gaza?

Seems everyone is discussing it, from the looniest of the Left all the way over to Sun News….haven’t checked Stormfront yet, I appear to have let my subscription lapse.

Of course the latest is that the party is “steadily shifting position” on the issue and that Mulcair is “expressing alarm” at civilian deaths in Gaza.

Cue the Zionists calling Mulcair an antisemite (his wife is Jewish, I believe) and christening it the Nazi Deification Party or some other such nonsense. This one comes pretty close:


And it appears Green is suffering the same schizophrenia with Elizabeth May condemning illegal settlements (in line with official Canadian policy) and Paul Estrin the President of Green Party writing a diatribe against Hamas (much to the delight of CIJA) which neglects to mention the occupation at all and blames the entire thing on Hamas, which really means the Palestinians, who elected Hamas after all, even as he cries crocodile tears over their plight.

I’ll say this for the Tories, at least I consistently know why I don’t vote for them and even Trudeau is forcing his party members to toe the official party line. In each case they are rather despicable about enforcing compliance on divisive issues of conscience, but it does let you know what to expect from them.

When you all get around to having an official party policy on the topic, send out a memo. Until then, kindly shut the fuck up.

Filed under ndp gaza ndp split green party schzophrenia

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Thank you for your hasbara. All our brain cells are busy right now but your propaganda is important to us. Please hold until dementia sets in. We are currently predicting wait times in the range of 30 - 60 years but we are attempting to schedule a break with reality sooner to improve wait times. We apologize for the inconvenience of free will and independent thought and hope this nice muzak will make your wait more pleasant.

Filed under hasbara Israel

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Why Jews don’t dare criticize Israel

And here we go with the blaming anti-semitism for everything again.

Bull-shit. Complete and utter poppycock.

You searched in good conscience for a pro-Palestinian group that wasn’t anti-semitic and couldn’t find it? Well your conscience crapped out at the 8 second mark then, because it took me all of 9 seconds with Google search to find Independent Jewish Voices and I was actually looking for information on Jewish views of free will and independent thought as related to the preservation of minority opinions in the Talmud. You’re in Toronto: how could you miss them? There’s even a chapter in my tiny little tight-knit (politically and socially) community which surprised the hell out of me. It must have 1 member, but it’s there.

Why don’t Jews dare criticize Israel in reality?

How they are treated by the mainstream Jewish community when they do.

In the words of one Rabbi (trying to find the quote) “I can question God on the bimah and nobody bats an eye, but it I were to question anything that Israel does I would be lucky to get out of the building alive. Certainly I would lose my job.”

Absolutely true. I could sit on the patio of a restaurant in the Jewish neighbourhood and eat a bacon and cheese sandwich preaching militant Atheism to my fellow diners and be completely ignored (or approved as a ‘maverick’) but the mere fact that I don’t agree to hate all Muslims, all Arabs and, of late, all Irish who ever lived since the Bronze Age makes me comparable to Stormfront. 

Bad hasbara, and the endless stream of historically ignorant, racist tripe scrolling down the pages of militant Zionist webpages, Twitters and Fbs creates more ill-will toward Jews that any amount of Jewish criticism of Israel ever could.


Filed under israel Jews criticism

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Goodbye Naftali, Gilad and Eyal: Hello Poster Children

I’d love to have titled this “You Lost Me at Sheloshim”: a quippy little title, and none the worse for its pop-culture overuse. But it isn’t true. You lost me some time ago, what you’ve done now is utterly disgusted and offended me.

My former shul, and the wider community to which it belongs, is communally observing “sheloshim” for the three boys kidnapped and killed in the Settlements and also publicly mourning for the soldiers killed recently in Gaza. Sheloshim being the 30 day period of mourning following a death, and also colloquially the final day thereof. And they have sent me an invitation to attend the…uh….festivities?

I don’t know what else to call them to be honest.

Firstly, it hasn’t been 30 days since the soldiers died so it can’t be their sheloshim. It is the sheloshim for the boys who were killed: tragic deaths they were indeed… I use that in its correct literary sense. On the surface it all seems very right and proper, doesn’t it? So what is my problem, beyond being an irredeemably antisemitic shiksa?

This is not “mourning” according to Jewish Law. It is, in fact, forbidden.

That’s right. It’s forbidden.

Regardless of one’s emotional closeness to the deceased, or how their life or death impacted you, if you are not one of the degrees of relations obligated to mourn (parent, child, sibling or spouse) you are not only not obligated to observe the rituals and timelines of mourning, you are forbidden from doing so. You may grieve (the emotion) all you like but you are NOT a “mourner”.

You don’t observe shiva, you visit the shiva house and comfort the lawful mourners. You don’t stand up and recite the Mourner’s Qaddish, you form part of a minyan to enable the mourners to recite it and say “Amen”. You don’t observe Sheloshim or Yahrzeit (death anniversary)…again except by visiting, making minyan etc. The permitted thing for someone outside those degrees to do is to recite Qaddish for someone who had no mourners when they died, or to recite it publicly on behalf of a female mourner (Orthodoxy only) and that person does not sit shiva or observe any other rituals, except Qaddish.

This rule is so strict that even in the Conservative synagogue I could not stand up in the synagogue and recite Qaddish on my mother’s Yahrzeit because she was not considered my mother any more, ritually speaking. I had no obligation to mourn her ritually, and so was actually forbidden from it. This is the woman who gave me the very first cell to form my body, and 50.1% of my DNA, and carried me within her very body itself, eating and breathing for me. I am physically more like her, more a part of her, more ‘flesh of her flesh’ than I am to anyone but my own children, who carry her DNA and her mitochondrial DNA as well. This is also the woman who taught me Yiddish words, Jewish humour, love of learning, Hebrew words and bits of prayers and Talmud. Whatever is Jewish in me, is owed to her. She did not just create a physical body, she made whatever Jewish soul I might have possible, and shaped and molded it for 34 years. Assuming I have a Jewish spark, I got it  from her. She is in every sense the mother of a Jew; ergo, she is a Jewish mother.

But I was not allowed to mourn her as one….by a community that, in the name of political posturing, is about to collectively observe sheloshim for three boys that, to my knowledge, not one of them is actually related to enough to mourn.


Even mothers of 29 day old infants are not permitted to mourn, and you think because the deaths of these boys were politically motivated, or “attacks on the Jewish people” or on Israel that that gives you the right to collectively abrogate Jewish Law? That because you are Zionists “defending Israel and the Jewish people” it gives you more rights than mothers whose arms are empty and whose breasts ache? Shame on you!

This is davqa why the Rabbis forbade people outside the permitted degrees from ritual mourning.

First, that whole communities would virtually shut down if everyone collectively observed all the strictures of mourning. 

Second, that the dignity of death and mourning would be replaced with public spectacles, and with the wailing of hired mourners, as individuals, families and communities competed with each other in showing their grief. In showing who was finer. More sensitive. More pious.

And thirdly, because Jewish Law demands that everyone be treated equally in death. No matter how rich, how important, how learned they were or how greatly they impacted others in life. No matter how they died. All go into a plain wooden box, in a plain, unadorned white shroud with  hands spread open to show that, whatever it is you had, you can’t take it with you. And the same people mourn; parents, siblings, spouses, children. That’s it. 

If I am not permitted to mourn the woman who gave me my very life and made me who I am, how can I be permitted to mourn 3 boys I never met, to whom I am no relation at all, and of whom I know nothing but the circumstances of their deaths?

I know nothing about them except one thing only: they were real human beings, not symbols. And that means I know one more thing about them than you do.

Stop the pretence that you care about these boys’ lives. Thirty days ago they were nothing and no one to you. If you are an Israeli you would happily have cut in front of them in line to shave a few seconds off your daily errands. If you are ultra-Orthodox you would have taken one look at their kippot serugot and called them Amalek. If you are Conservative/Masorti, Reform or secular you would have sneered at them as religious nuts.

Stop the pretence that you care about their deaths. Thirty days ago a Jew was killed by a careless, aggressive or drunk driver. Thirty days a go a Jewish woman, or perhaps a man, was killed by an intimate partner. Thirty days ago a Jewish child was killed by a parent, grandparent or caregiver. Thirty days ago a Jew died on the job because of a negligent workplace. Thirty days ago a Jew died in a violent robbery, or because of organized crime. Thirty days ago a Jewish prostitute, that symbol of normalization par excellence, was killed by a john, or a pimp. Where, may I ask, are THEIR collective sheloshim?

When did it become the case that the only Jewish deaths that mattered were the ones caused by Palestinians, or Muslims? When did their deaths become the only ones worth mourning?

You use the slogan “An attack on one is an attack on all” but in the fine print at the bottom it reads “Jews who have exhibited the poor taste to be killed by other Jews need not apply”.

The only thing that matters to you about these boys is their symbolic value in death. They do make nice poster children, don’t they? I keep seeing “innocent” appended to their names….what a very odd choice of word, Jewishly speaking. Innocent means in origin “not having knowledge” and in the sense of “not having knowledge of a crime” to not be morally or legally responsible or culpable. Which one do you mean? I would hate to think you are suggesting that they were uneducated, so you would appear to be suggesting they are not morally or legally responsible or culpable.

How odd. You see Jewish Law holds that at age 13 a boy becomes morally responsible and culpable for his actions. That isn’t my opinion, it’s the opinion of centuries of Rabbis. I’m an amateur neurologist; I’m still not certain whether anyone under 25 can be totally culpable.

Are you suggesting then that there was no crime for them to be culpable of? Unfortunately there was, and still is. In contravention of international law, Israel still occupies land outside its internationally recognized borders and blockades the borders and ports of another nation. I am also perfectly willing to point out that attacks on civilians are also in contravention of international law but that does not negate the Israeli and Jewish responsibility for Israel’s actions and is a separate, if related, topic. Jews are settling on land that is not theirs by international law and now three young people living on those lands have been killed by the natives in retaliation.

It is really not fair. Naftali, Gilad and Eyal were not more responsible than the other settlers around them, nor more responsible than the people in the Israeli government, which looks away with the eyes at illegal settlements while it has a hand behind its back slipping them money, building them roads and sewers and moving in troops to defend them from the people whose land they’re on. They were not more responsible than Jews around the world who fund charities that support the settlements, or than the parents who brought them there, to a dangerous place, because they have replaced centuries of Rabbis with one Rav, and his fanatical and idolatrous beliefs about the divinity of the land, or the legions of Jews who preserve and propagate this theology. I am not even sure if they are more culpable than the millions of Jews around the world who simply choose wilful blindness, or complacent silence on the issue of the settlements, or the racist remarks made by members of Knesset calling for all Palestinian women to be killed before they can become mothers of “little snakes”.

It really is not fair that they should be killed when so many others are so clearly more culpable, but neither are they innocent. None of us are.

And that is the part Jews don’t want to see. That Jews are culpable also in their deaths. Jews may not have pulled the proverbial trigger, but Jews daily contribute in myriad ways to creating and maintaining the situation that led to their deaths, by distorting the truth, spreading misinformation, and blaming everyone else…by refusing to move beyond the posture of victimhood and recognize that, in this game, Jews are holding the majority of the cards.

Naftali, Gilad and Eyal had the poor taste to be killed partially by other Jews. Admitting that would diminish their value as symbols of the cause….but it might just restore their humanity.

And that is what they deserve in death, as in life. To be human. 

Shame on you! Shame on us all! It may have been Palestinians who took their lives, but it is you who are taking away their humanity.

For you to invite me to partake in this travesty of Jewish Law, this politicized spectacle of wailing is repugnant. I may be just as morally culpable in their deaths because I’ve chosen the path of avoiding confrontation for too long, but I have not yet sunk so low that I will prostitute myself. You will all sell your services for an Israeli shekel, and will weep and wail for show, but I won’t join you for this farcical “sheloshim”. Nor for the equally empty vanity of  breast beating and pseudo-pious pretence to come on Yom Kippur, in which your lips will be reciting words of moral introspection and your hearts will be far away. 

You may as well all just stand up and recite, “Hamas has incurred guilt; Hamas has betrayed…” because that is what you will be thinking the whole time. And when all that is done you can recite the Shema as it is in your hearts too. “Shema Adonai, Yisrael eloheinu, Yisrael echad.”

I have disagreed with you. I have been saddened by you. I have been annoyed and angered by you. But I think this is the first time I have actually felt physically sick with disgust at you. 

I keep saying I’m leaving Judaism but this latest replacement of Jewish Law with Zionist Spectacle simply reminds me that everybody else has already left it before me. It’s rather hard to storm dramatically out of an empty room.

Filed under Judaism Zionism replacement theology Settlements Rav Kook Jewish Law sheloshim murdered teens Jewish

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Reading the words of the anonymous rabbi in recounting his fear in face the warning sirens alerting Jerusalemites of Hamas rockets, I was both enraged and ashamed.

I was enraged by the lack of comprehension he showed to the situation in which we - Israelis and Palestinians - have been living for as long as we remember. I was born in Jerusalem in 1979 and lived here for most of my life. An officer in the IDF still fulfilling my reserve duty, I have lived through three wars (Lebanon I - 1982; Gulf I - 1991; Lebanon II - 2006), two Intifada uprisings of the occupied Palestinians (1987; 2000) and three military operations in Gaza (Cast Lead - 2008; Pillar of Defense - 2012; Protective Edge - 2014). Some of these I experienced in uniform. I am also raising two young children in Jerusalem.

For us living here, the current military operation and the ongoing drizzle of rockets are neither unbearable nor threatening in an existential way. Iron Dome has enabled Israelis to continue with their normal lives neither terrified nor terrorized. While the Gazans are rained with high-precision ton-heavy bombs falling with no sirens or alert system, we in Jerusalem have heard three sirens in the past nine days, and witnessed no rocket falling.

When the siren went off in that Saturday afternoon mentioned by the rabbi, I was sitting with my family in a park right across to the Shalom Hartman Institute, compared in his narrative to an U-Boat under attack. From the park where we were picnicking, as it happened, I could see the rocket being intercepted several miles south to Jerusalem, above Hebron, and in contrast to the rabbi’s Dresdenian depiction.

In a cross check with a senior Haaretz correspondent, it turns out that none of the rockets even got close to central Jerusalem - hits were located only around Hebron and Ramat Raziel (a village miles to the west of the city) probably a result of shrapnel from Iron Dome’s interceptions. This gets nowhere near WWII (the very comparison is preposterous if not offensive to survivors of that terrible war).

I am enraged because the rabbi is presumably a tourist in my city and country, yet in the name of his spiritual and cultural connection to the holy land he feels free to act as its spokesman. By generalizing his personal sense of fear and acting as a spokesman for those who actually carry the burden of living in Israel, the rabbi grossly exaggerated the impact of Hamas terror on Jerusalem and portrayed it with unduly epic dimensions. In so doing, he distorts the actual power imbalance in this tragic situation, in addition to victimizing me and my fellow Israeli citizens.

As a society, we are a (powerful) side in this conflict, not a helpless victim. To avoid any misunderstanding, I would like to clarify that I am far from disregarding the fear and anxiety felt by many Israelis who are in the line of fire day after day. Writing about Jerusalem however - a city that witnessed three sirens and not even one hit of a rocket - in the way that the rabbi adopted is simply absurd. This absurdity might indicate that his experience is influenced less by concrete reality and more by his already existing perception of victimhood. And this brings me to shame.

The blinding victimhood embodied in the rabbi’s comments is shameful because it points at an abject moral, spiritual and leadership failure. In the very same Jerusalem and on the very same days, young religious Jews have burnt alive an innocent Palestinian teenager, in the name of national revenge. In this very city, racist Jewish hooligans are marching every night, seeking Arab scapegoats, cracking down on other Jews who dare answer back to them, shouting slogans such as “death to the Arabs” and “A Jew has a Soul, and Arab is a son of a whore”.

Where is the cry of this anonymous rabbi against these far more worrisome threats to our existence and future? How dare American rabbis who keep silent these days continue and call themselves religious shepherds? As an observant Jew, I am ashamed at how few were the courageous voices who took into heart the words of Rabbi A. J. Heschel who marched at Selma with Martin Luther King Jr.: “Few might be guilty - but all are responsible”.

The rabbi’s anonymity, it turns out, is but a metaphor for his inacceptable silence on the real enemies of the Jewish society in Israel - the extremist hateful enemies from within.

No, rabbi, you got it wrong. The rockets are not really scary nor are they a true existential threat. Racism, radicalism, and religious intoxication from brute power has become an imminent danger to our old and beloved peoplehood. When people are accustomed to hearing that they are perpetual innocent victims of Palestinian aggression, they eventually translate they frustration into rage and start seeking justice in revenge. If you continue looking up to the sky, you will not notice that the house is already burning from within.

Dr. Hillel Ben Sasson, Jerusalem


Filed under israel gaza Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel extremism