Conservative Liberal

FDR would have been a Republican today.

A good movie and pretentious blowhards

As I have mentioned before, last Saturday my wife and I went to see the movie "Defiance".  The movie is based on a true story told by Nechama Tec about 4 Bielski brothers who organized a Jewish partisan band in Nazi-occupied Western Byelorussia and saved 1200 Jews.  This is the only kind of Holocaust movie that I like: the kind where Jews save themselves, have guns, fight back and defend themselves.  The movie is very well made, and the acting is pretty good too.  The reviews by regular movie-goers are almost universally good.  People can relate to the story: people hunted like animals stand up and defend themselves.  The professional critics, being the pretentious blowhards that they are, don’t particularly like the movie and keep analyzing artistic merits of the story.  But there are no artistic merits in this story, it is what it is.  This is a docudrama, or, more properly, a reenactment of historical events.  The script writer did not have to invent any clever plot lines, they were provided by life itself.  However, the review linked to above is not the most insulting and idiotic.  Yesterday my co-worker sent me a link to this Atlas Shrugs post, which links to a review written by someone named Tom Charity and published by CNN.  Pamela quotes this lovely passage from the review:

"The timing is unfortunate. For a story that has gone neglected for the best part of 60 years, this is hardly the ideal week to be extolling heroic Jewish resistance fighters. Ari Folman’s angst-laden nonfiction animated film, "Waltz With Bashir," is altogether more relevant."

This guy of course has a problem with the Jews in Israel defending themselves against Hamas murderers.  This basically reveals the main problem the Left has with Israel.  Besides the anti-Semitism prevalent on the Left, the leftists prefer Jews as quiet little victims silently marching into the gas chambers, so the Left can feel sorry for them afterwards.  But as bad as the passage above is, the complete article is even worse.  The term "pretentious blowhard" is, well, too charitable for Mr. Charity (pun intended).  Mr. Charity writes his review with very little, if any, knowledge and understanding of the subject matter of the film.  Well, I will take up an exercise in futility and attempt to enlighten Mr. Charity and his ilk.

One of the idiocies of this review that stands out is this:

In "Defiance" those words come with a thick, guttural European inflection (Hebrew is spoken as English, though characters also break into subtitled Russian and German on occasion). The speechifying is often clumsy and long-winded.

I would have forgiven Mr. Charity if he would have said "Yiddish is spoken as English".  This is probably the way it was intended by the director anyway.  But Hebrew?  This guy is just an ignorant idiot.  No, I am not being charitable any more.  Apart from a rabbi conducting a service, Hebrew was never spoken by Jews in Byelorussia.  The language spoken by those involved in the story was probably a mixture of Russian, Byelorussian, Polish and Yiddish, with Russian predominating among the city dwellers from the East and Polish among those from the West.  Any commands and speeches would probably be given in Russian.  How do I know this?  Well, look at my background!  Yes, Odessa is not in Byelorussia, but I know enough people from there too.  And there are and were enough similarities in conditions in Odessa and Byelorussia for me to know what language was spoken by the real characters in this story.  And by the way, there was no German spoken by the Jews in the movie.

Mr. Charity laments Zus’ decision to join the Soviet partisans and take the fight to the Nazis.  Hiding in some hole must be more appealing for Mr. Charity.  He does not think that the Russians were true friends of Zus.  It would help if Mr. Charity would have read Nechama Tec’s book on which the movie is based.  Victor Panchenko, the Russian commander, is not shown as a villain in the movie.  Indeed, he was not.  Unlike many Russian partisans, Panchenko accepted Jewish able-bodied men into his group.  And once he esteblished contact with the Belski brothers, he sent the non-fighters their way.  If Mr. Charity would have read the book, he would know that Panchenko was very helpful to the Belski brothers.  He helped the Jewish partisans establish contact with the Soviet High Command, which was necessary for treating the wounded and getting supplies.  Jewish fighters were participating in missions together with the Russians, missions ordered by the Soviet Command.  And Panchenko made use of Jewish camp as a base, using skilled laborers weapons maintenance and repair and medical professionals for treating lightly wounded.  This actually alluded to in the movie, when the newcomers to the camp are asked what they can do.  And, by the way, Panchenko punished anti-Semites.  While Zus and some of his comrades did come back to the Belski camp, some other Jewish fighters stayed with Panchenko because they wanted to fight the Germans more actively as members of a more mobile Panchenko group.  Here is one more news flash for Mr. Charity: wanting to take the fight to the Nazis is a good thing.

Here is another lovely passage by Mr. Charity:

The movie is full of mud and muck, yet somehow Zwick sanitizes the things that matter most. In the most challenging scene, just as Tuvia turns a blind eye as his enraged fellow Jews beat a German prisoner to death, Zwick consistently pulls back from anything that might be too unpleasant or tasteless.

Mr. Ignoramus conveniently does not notice clearly visible SS insignia under the "poor" German’s camouflage coat.  The fact that he was SS means that he was likely a member of one of the Einsatzgruppen, a special SS unit whose only purpose in life was to murder Jews.  So, what would Mr. Charity have Tuvia Belski do, shoot his fellow Jews in order to save an SS-man?  And what would partisans do with a POW?  Start a POW camp in the woods?  The circumstances were such that the German had to be killed anyway.  Or should they let him go, so that he would come back with his Einsatzkommando?  I personally would have preferred that the Nazi were thoroughly interrogated and then disposed of cleanly with a bullet to the back of his head.  But once the mob started beating on him there was no stopping them without shooting one of long suffering people whose loved ones were perhaps murdered by that SS-man.  It obviously was not worth it.  The ignorance and lack of historical perspective displayed by Tom Charity is staggering.  And he uses this episode to take another anti-Semitic potshot at those "murderous" Jews.  By the way, why is this scene more challenging than, let’s say, the scene where Tuvia shoots Arkady, the man who challenged his command authority?  The man was a jerk, but at least he was on our side.  He was one of the Jews initially saved by the Belskis.  Could it be that Mr. Charity feels more sorry for the Nazi than for the Jew?  "His [Edward Zwick’s – Eric-Odessit] heroes remain fundamentally unsullied," Mr. Charity laments.  He clearly would prefer to sully them.

There is also this idiotic passage:

Zwick’s Hollywood liberal credentials are not in doubt, but his films have a surprisingly gung-ho undercurrent (they include such martial adventures as "The Last Samurai," "Glory," "The Siege," "Legends of the Fall" and "Courage Under Fire").

Tom clearly does not like plots where good guys are fighting the bad guys.  He must subscribe to the notion that "War never solves anything".  Well, I have to remind him that war did stop slavery, Nazism and Communism.  So, it did solve something.  And who cares about "Zwick’s Hollywood liberal credentials"?  He probably does lean Left, but it does not matter.  He made a good movie, movie I can relate to.  Older generation of my family lived this story.  I know people who were participants in similar stories.  And he made a movie about Holocaust where the Jews take up guns, shoot back and defend themselves, killing the Nazis.  That’s better than all the "Schindler’s Lists" and "Pianists" combined.

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January 20, 2009 Posted by | Articles, History | 13 Comments

Defiance, resistance and support of Israel – picture corrected

Correction: in the picture identifying Rabbi Goldstein of Chabad of Poway the rabbi is misidentified.  Some people pointed out to me that the rabbi in the picture is actually Rabbi Leider.  Sorry about that.

Yesterday there was another demonstration by by Hamas supporters.  I wanted to counter it, but some of the supporters of Israel who are observant Jews would not be able to participate because of Shabat.  I went there anyway, just to see what was going on and to alert the local news organizations that there would be a pro-Israel demonstration today.  But the news weren’t there, according to the cops at the scene they got tired of those Hamas supporters.  So I simply e-mailed the local news channels the information about our demonstration.  In the evening, as if we needed more inspiration for the action today (not really, I was pretty gung-ho as it was), my wife and I went to see the movie "Defiance".  The movie is based on a true story told by Nechama Tec about 4 Bielski brothers who organized a Jewish partisan band in Nazi-occupied Western Byelorussia and saved 1200 Jews.  The movie is very well made.  What makes the movie and the real story itself particularly good is the fact that in it the Jews actually shoot back, the same fact that continuously annoys the Left about Israel.  And so today we had a demonstration in support of the Jews who shoot back and defend themselves.  Despite the short notice we had relatively descent turn-out: between 50 and 100 people.  Doing your own demonstration is different from organizing a counter: you need more preparation and you need to have your own program for the rally.  Just standing somewhere with signs and flags might get boring.  We had a little bit of a program: we had fliers to give away, writing letters to Israeli soldiers, and a rabbi was putting tefillin on any Jewish man who wanted it.  Next time we should plan it better.  Of the local news channels only KUSI and NBC 7/39 showed up.  Once they have their coverage on their sites, I will link to it.  Below are some pictures from our rally.

There is our table with fliers.

Our crowd.

Some of our guys with signs.

Rabbi Goldstein from Chabad of Poway.  He was "the Water Rabbi" who distributed water to firefighter during the 2007 fires in San Diego.

Rabbi Mendy from Chabad of Poway.

Raj from India expressing solidarity with Israel and USA.  He remembers Mumbai and other atrocities of Islamist terrorists.

Our signs.

A Protest Warrior sign.

More of our signs.

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January 18, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment


What constitutes a successful counter-demonstration?  When you do this, your audience is not the people you are countering: you will never change their minds.  Your audience is general public.  So, in countering your opposition you are successful if you get a descent news coverage.  Fairly sizable crowd on your side is also pretty nice.  The best situation is when the bad guys (and is this particular situation the Hamas supporters really are the bad guys) show their true colors for the general public to see.  Well, San Diego Fox 5 Channel captured exactly that.  In their video segment they interviewed one of our guys.  He had just finished explaining to the reporter that the pro-Hamas people chants "From the river to the sea…" mean that they don’t want peace, but rather the destruction of Israel.  And then, as if on cue, the Hamas supporters started chanting: "From the river to the sea…"  That is what I call "success".  See for yourself:

Fox 5 News video

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January 12, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Of Israel, media and “World Community”

A friend from Israel sent me a great article that describes the struggle Israel involved in, the media reporting on it, the "World Community" reactions to it, and frustration of all freedom-loving people, Jews and non-Jews alike, watching the news covering the events.  The article appeared originally as a post on an Israeli blog and has no title.  Since the author (her name is Julia) is originally from Russia, the whole blog, including the article, is in Russian.  For those willing and able to read the original article in the original Russian, please go ahead.  For the English-speaking audience, here is my translation:

You and your family came out of your house. You – let’s say, personally you – the head of family, your wife, two kids (5 and 10 years old), and your dogie, the beloved poodle, affectionate and silly. You go about your business and suddenly you are attacked by a bunch of wild dogs. One of them jumps on the poodle, the second brought down the little one and it looks like it is going to gnaw through his throat, while your wife attempts to drive it off, the third one got the oldest kid up into the tree and keeps barking below. A few more large and sharp-toothed dogs approach the place of struggle from several different sides. The most aggressive of them bites into your foot. You pull out a gun and shoot – first the one biting you, to get it out of the way, then – the one tormenting the child, afterwards – the one eating your poodle, and finally you shoot the one waiting for its prey under the tree. The rest scatter, but not too far, and they are standing at some distance roaring threateningly. You shoot one more dog, it falls, the rest runs away, now for good.
You help your wife the youngest child to get up, help the oldest to climb down from the tree; alas, the poodle is already beyond help. You call the ambulance which takes you all to the ER, where you, your wife and the bitten child get stitches and prescriptions for 40 injections into the stomach. At home you turn the TV on, and an anchor reports: “Today in Town N Mr. M. shot to death several vagrant dogs”. And a picture – a puddle of blood at the place of the fight, but, as far as you remember, the blood belongs to your poodle. Another news broadcast clarifies that one of the killed dogs, the one that was biting your foot, was an eight-months old puppy (never mind that it was a puppy of mastiff, still, it was a baby), the second (the one that attacked your child) belonged to a prominent member of the community. The third dog, which was barking under the tree, was completely harmless, had never bitten anyone, although barked at everyone and everything with and without any reason. And only the fourth one, that tore the poodle apart, was rabid. The anchors ask various experts some questions. The talking heads are talking on.
“Certainly,” says one, fine looking and well-fed, “dogs should not be killed. Moreover, in such unequal battle. Indeed, they do not have pistols, they honestly fight with their teeth. Furthermore, they were really hungry. It is possible to understand them”.
“Sooo,” the second, shaggy and bearded, guy timidly inserts, “but, what do you expect? For Mr. M. to bite them back?”
“No,” answers the third talking head, the bald and passionate one, “absolutely not. It was necessary to kill the rabid dog, but why the rest had to suffer? The puppy didn’t really do anything at all. It bit his foot, big deal! You don’t kill for this! The barking one also was not going to bite anyone. And the prominent citizen might now sue. For the murder of his dog”.
“Yes, but how do you determine, which one is rabid and which is not, in this extreme situation?” the news anchor asks.
“That’s why we are human, so we can distinguish between the rabid and not,” the bald one replies authoritatively, “we must not stoop to the level of animals. Nothing there was extreme. Indeed, everybody survived, did they not?”
“But wait,” interferes the representative of the society of the protection of animals. “How is it? Is it possible in general to shoot the living things? They trust us! We should feed them, protect them, not shoot them!”
You are amazed listening to this crap, then you go on-line and see the headlines: “Shooting of defenseless animals!” one site screams. And a photo with a puddle of blood on asphalt. “Unprovoked attack on dogs!” another site shouts. And a picture of a cute puppy face. “Let us protect our beloved pets!” the third one says, not to be too far behind the first two. And in the photograph – muzzle of an automatic weapon pointing toward a reader. You go to your own blog and describe events from your point of view. You don’t have photographs from the scene of the incident, so you get your camera out and take pictures of your child with stitches on the hands; then you post the photographs as an illustration. In the comments there are many of those who sympathize with you, but there are also home-grown investigators and moralists.
“Photoshop,” they confidently declare about the photograph.
“In general, why do you walk around with a handgun?” they question. Your answer “If not for that gun, we would not be alive now” follows this remark: “Well, great, then the dogs would remain alive”. To the observation “They killed our dog too” they with the knowledge on the matter declare: “This still needs to be verified, who killed your dog, you must have hit it yourself accidentally”.
“You kill puppies!”
“You should not live in dangerous neighborhood!”
“You should be taking another road!”
“If you fed them, they would not touch you!”
To the last slogan, something like “Death to the dog-killers!”, you answer exhaustingly: “Get lost, you, idiot”. The commenter gleefully rubs his hands and screams: “Look, how aggressive he is! Why are you so aggressive?” Yes, really Why do you think?

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January 12, 2009 Posted by | Articles | Leave a comment

Protest Warrior lives!

Although technically today’s counter of the pro-Hamas rally in Balboa Park was not an official San Diego Protest Warrior action, it was in spirit of the San Diego Chapter of Protest Warrior.  We met at the statue of El Cid in front of the Art Museum and the proceeded to the fountain in front of the Science Museum, where all the action was.  Our turn-out was surprisingly good: News 8 reported about equal crowds on both sides, which it probably was.  Although, initially we had slightly more people.  Both sides just stood there and shouted at each other, but generally it was pretty peaceful.  We tried to keep a distance of several feet between us and the pro-Hamas people in order to keep the police happy.  The cops were trying to maintain neutrality but, as often in these situations, had their sympathies on our side.  Apparently at one point one woman from the Hamas side started choking on something and was saved by a Jewish doctor from our crowd.  A cop present at that scene commented: "That’s about sums it up".  I hope I will be able to get more details of that particular episode.  Overall it went pretty good, and we all had some fun.  The only downside was that we left after the Hamas guys did their march because we thought that they were done.  Turns out, they stayed.  But they did not stay unopposed: some of our guys showed up late for the main thing and ended up being our 2nd shift.  So, it all worked out.  Below are some pictures and videos that I took.

These are 2 crowds with some distance in between.

Our crowd looks bigger.

Note conspicuous absence of American flags on their side.

More of us and them.

Us from the back.

We chant.

They teach their kids to hate while they are young.

San Diego Fox 5 TV crew.

Below are the short videos I took with my camera.  When we were chanting, we were at disadvantage: the Hamas guys had a couple of megaphones, but we had just our voices.  Still, we managed.  For those who still has illusions that the Hamas crowd wants 2 peaceful democratic states, Arab and Jewish, living side by side, pay close attention to the Hamas crowd chants.  Their chants about "From the river to the sea…" should put an end to any illusions about their peaceful intentions.

Finally, some of our signs.  They are pretty self-explanatory.

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January 4, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments