Israeli Chief Rabbinate Issues Ruling on Breast Cancer Awareness Month

After weeks of intense debate concerning the rising tide of breast cancer awareness, the Chief Rabbinate of Israel issued a statement yesterday condemning the month and all dedicated funding for the cause.

“It is the opinion of the Rabbinate that the worldwide focus on breasts is a contaminating influence not only on Jews and those who seek a spiritual lifestyle, but also on children,” said Ziv Maor, Spokesman of the Chief Rabbinate. “The breast is an erva (English: nakedness). It belongs in the home, not on a cereal box.”

Breast Cancer Awareness month is organized annually during the month of October by a combination of cancer-focused charities and major corporations to raise funds for breast cancer research and to encourage mammography. The movement also offers support to victims of breast cancer and their kin.

The pink ribbon symbolizing  B****t Cancer Awareness Month

The pink ribbon symbolizing B****t Cancer Awareness Month

“We fully appreciate the plight of any victims, and we offer our deepest sympathy to them,” claimed Maor. “The Rabbinate has encouraged kehilot (English: congregations) to add a mi shebeirach, a special prayer, for them during services. But with an increasing awareness of breast cancer comes an increasing awareness of breasts. And this we cannot abide.”

The decision has provoked outrage from Jewish communities around the world who look toward the Chief Rabbinate of Israel as a leading, if not supreme, authority, on matters of Jewish law and culture. “This decision is nothing if not closed-minded and insensitive,” proclaimed Rabbi Mark Ruskin, rabbi of Congregation Ohev Shadayim in Twin Peaks, MO. “We all have breasts, even the rabbis. Breasts and penises and vaginas and breasts, and we shouldn’t be ashamed of it.”

As part of the ruling, all charitable funding dedicated towards breast cancer awareness may no longer be counted as tzeddakah or meritorious giving according to Jewish legal and ethical standards.

A confiscated light fixture.

A confiscated light fixture.

All mastectomies performed in October are null and void. And in a display of rabbinic might and conservatism, all activities deemed to be in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month are subject to review and potential censure by the national religious court of law. These activities include: wearing pink, watching Thursday night football, being born in the month of July, eating dark meat, swimming on your chest whilst keeping your torso straight, discussing Iraq, installing noisemaking devices on your front door, milking a cow, experiencing an economic downturn, inflating decorative latex bags at parties, consuming any fruit in the cantaloupe family, chewing hard flavorless gum, eating coconut-flavored Hershey’s products, and keeping people in the loop.

“I am very, very upset by this news,” said Karin Gold, Israeli breast cancer survivor and proud mother of twins. “It’s time to give the Israeli Rabbinate a serious role reduction and to enlarge the authority of local clergymen.”

BREAKING: New Kosher D.C. Restaurant to Partner with McFadden’s Restaurant and Saloon

Washington D.C.’s newest Kosher restaurant, Char Bar and Eli’s Marketplace (formerly Eli’s Restaurant), has agreed to form a strategic partnership with McFadden’s Restaurant and Saloon, the popular Irish party pub located in D.C.’s West End. Char Bar will operate out of the pub’s kitchen on weekends, serving up its eclectic mix of BBQ and Kosher Deli to the hungry mobs. On weeknights, McFadden’s will lend its DJ, bartenders, and “wait staff” to the restaurant, bringing a youthful vibe to the classy eatery. The agreement was finalized Friday morning by Jewish restaurateur, Sina Soumekhian, and whoever the hell owns McFadden’s, probably an Irish pedophile.

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Rabbi enjoying a “Sloppy Joel”

“This is a great day not only for Char Bar, but also for the D.C. Jewish Community,” said Soumekhian. “In the spirit of inclusion and outreach, we want to bring our delicious Kosher fare to the greater D.C. population. In the spirit of business growth, we want to leverage the unbelievable success of McFadden’s. And in the spirit of fun, we want our customers to grind with tanked, underage GW students.”

The partnership brings together two distinguished and longstanding D.C. establishments, each boasting a loyal and starkly homogeneous clientele. A new symbiosis will hopefully diversify each institution’s respective consumer base and garner new customer interest as well. “We really want more Kosher people at Faded Fridays and Super Sloshed Saturdays,” said McFadden’s event coordinator known only as “Ashley.” “We need some more brunettes in the crowd. The strawberry blonde can be blinding sometimes lol.” Soumekhian echoed that sentiment. “I want Char Bar to be a multicultural experience. I want it to be a place where Jews and Irish Catholics alike can enjoy a piece of schnitzel and the thumping beats of Trey Songz.”

Kosher club

Char Bar’s new slogan: “The Best Kosher Pickle in DC!”

The move has the overwhelming support of the D.C. Jewish community, with leaders and congregants of mainstay Jewish institutions offering their resolute seals of approval. “This is great news,” beamed Jacob Lisser, congregant at Georgetown’s Kesher Israel synagogue. “Where else can you enjoy a ‘Freundel’ while pinning a blackout 19-year-old against the wall?”

Inspired by the revelrous spirit of McFadden’s, Char Bar will release a menu of rager-themed appetizers and entrees. The “DTF (Down to Fleisch)” will feature a plate of young, lean meat just waiting, as the menu describes, “to get swallowed.” The “Sloppy Joel” promises to be a delicious BBQ option, a seasoned loose ground beef patty sandwiched between two pieces of lightly tanned white bread. And no matter how well done you order your steak, the “Convincing Fake” will always arrive severely undercooked. Char Bar will also offer a sizable takeout and catering menu, known playfully as the “Meat Market.”

The partnership is set to commence next week, August 12th, at 9:30pm., at which time representatives from the McFadden’s and Char Bar wait staff will clear the tables from the Char Bar floor and begin making rounds with test tube shots of Baron Herzog merlot. The crowd will break for Ma’ariv, the traditional Jewish evening prayer service at 10:00, after which time the hoards of sweaty bros, Irish chicks, and sweatier Jews will congeal into a bumpin’ mass of intercultural “dialogue.”

Al-Qassam Brigades Launch Babies into Israel, Claim “Right of Return”

After days of continuous rocket fire into and out of the Gaza Strip, Palestinian military leaders have devised a new offensive strategy, with an eye towards long-term territorial reoccupation. In an effort to repopulate Palestine and in defiance of the long-standing Israeli occupation, residents of both Gaza and the West Bank will gently launch their babies into Israeli settlement towns, actualizing a Palestinian “Right of Return”.

Cute lil' thing, Yazid Sharabi, on his way to Ofakim

Cute lil’ thing, Yazid Sharabi, on his way to Ofakim

“The time has come to end this bloody stalemate and to take more radical steps towards reclaiming our homeland,” said Marwan Issa, practice leader of the al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s military wing. “We will no longer throw our children’s lives away in this bloody war. Well…ok…not metaphorically, at least”

“We have no choice but to catapult our offspring into Jewish-occupied Palestine,” claimed Yusuf Haddad, Hamas militant and engineer. “Building a Qassam rocket takes too much time and too many resources. Now all we need to do is diaper up and fire.”

The campaign, known as Operation Rubber Ducky, has rallied Palestinian civilians and militants alike.  “We must take back what is ours,” said Yunis Al Astal, preacher and Hamas member of the Palestinian Legislative Council. “We will put the fear of Allah in our oppressors’ hearts, whether it be by the thundering crash of a Qassam rocket or the adorable squeal of an infant.”

Little Ismail Khalidi tumbling through the air en route to Netivot.

Little Ismail Khalidi tumbling through the air en route to Netivot.

“It is an honor to give my son to the trebuchets,” said Gaza resident and mother of three, Fadiya el-Ghazzawy, turning towards her infant son, Amar. “We need to rattle the Israelis somehow, don’t we? Don’t we? Yes we do! Yes we do! That’s a good boy. Who’s a good boy? You are! You are! Yeeeeessssssssss you are. You! You! Who is? You are! Aren’t you such a good boy? Who’s a hungry boy? You’re a hungry boy! Who’s ready for his dinner? You are! Say ahhhhh! Heeeeeeeeere comes the Katyusha! “

The international community has lent its staunch support to this initiative. Late yesterday, the UN Security Council passed a resolution applauding Palestinian leaders for dropping their weapons and seeking cuter means of achieving political ends. “We would like to recognize the attempts of the Palestinian leadership at being pacifiers in this ongoing conflict,” said Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. “We only hope that members of the Knesset will drink the same formula.”

But despite international pressure, Israeli leadership shows no signs of relinquishing its long-standing hegemony in the region. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has refused to recognize the right of Palestinians to toss their toddlers onto the front lawns of Israeli settlement homes. “What we need in this region is to dialogue like adults,” said Netanyahu. “What we have here is children throwing children.”

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Prime Minister Netanyahu, dialoguing like an adult

The growing number of flying babies has caused increasing unrest in Israeli residential areas. The border city of Ashkelon has been hit particularly hard with waves of adorable crying newborns. “I want to run and hide inside a bomb shelter, but I also kind of want to catch a baby,” said Yitzhak Koren, Ashkelon resident and total sucker for tiny baby feet. “But that’s what they want,” interjected Koren’s wife, Orit. “We must not play their games. Unless that game is Chutes and Ladders. I love Chutes and Ladders.”

As the Palestinian youngsters continue to fall from the sky, it appears that tensions in the Middle East will continue to rise – grim prospects for a lasting peace. “This whole operation really stinks,” said Moshe Ya’alon, Israeli Defense Minister. “Seriously, it reeks of doody. What in the world are Palestinians putting in their kids’ kabobs?”

Social Justice Activist Writes Facebook Post, Brings Israeli-Palestinian Conflict to an End

At 10:46 EST on July 10th, 2014, Israeli and Palestinian leadership stood side by side at the site of a dilapidated home in Gaza and jointly announced a resolution to the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Both sides laid down their arms just hours before in response to activist David Greenberg’s impassioned cry for peace on Facebook. The post read “Praying for peace for all Palestinians. Praying for peace for all Israelis. No more killing. No more death.”

“This is a momentous day in the history of the Middle-East,” said Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas before an excitable cadre of media, politicos, and civilians, “and another notch in the belt of Jew Mark Zuckerberg.”

A conciliatory Prime Minister Netanyahu agreed. “Our children have bled for too long. Palestinian children have bled for too long. It is time to bring a collective peace to this region and to follow President Abbas on Twitter.”

Netanyahu and Abbas mugging for a photo. It would later wind up on Instagram.

Both leaders credited Greenberg’s bravery and utter selflessness for the armistice. “It is no easy task to fight for peace,” noted Abbas. “It is harder yet to type your feelings out on a keyboard from the privacy of your American home and then press enter. The adversity in the comments section can be unbearable. The embarrassment of an unliked post can be devastating. We applaud David for his resolve. We should all learn from his example and disseminate our prayers over social media. The Quran teaches us that God is an avid and relentless Facebook stalker.”

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon discovered the titular post while checking his mobile news feed from the crapper and made the call to the Prime Minister almost immediately. “I knew when I read it that it was time. That everything had changed. How could we drop bombs on Gaza when David was praying for peace on social media? It no longer made any sense.”

As Israeli and Palestinian leadership made amends, the battle in and around Gaza raged on. It wasn’t until Hamas militant and merciless troll Naseer al-Faruqi received an MMS from his teenage son that he spread the message of peace throughout the warzone. “I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw that text,” sniggered al-Faruqi. “I immediately went to the Darfur subreddit and wrote Y U NO HAV PEECE?”

Al-Faruqi trolling so hard.

The surprise end to the prolonged conflict came during an intensifying campaign known as Operation Protective Edge, a retaliatory operation by Israeli forces in response to the escalation of rocket attacks on Israel by Hamas. “The only bombs we’ll be making from now on are photo bombs,” quipped Marwan Issa, practice leader of the Al-Qassam Brigades, as he stole a mischievous look at Netanyahu and Abbas, mid-selfie. “I’ll get them later,” he whispered. “Allahu Akbar.”

Shortly after the peace deal was reached, hundreds of elated Palestinian children could be seen parading through the streets with Sodastreams and USB drives, a celebration of newfound solidarity and collective achievement. Quizzical Israeli children held algebra textbooks. Both parties exclaimed their love of Candy Crush and Words with Friends. Challenges were made and leaderboards filled up with Mohammeds and Mordechais featured side by side.

A failure of peace at a time of technological infancy.

Spokesperson Mark Regev addressed the peace deal in its historical context. “It’s no wonder the Oslo Accords were a failure. We barely had the Pentium Processor. And at Camp David we were still using AOL Instant Messenger. Thank God Facebook came along or we might still be embroiled in this mess.”

As both sides addressed the throngs of media, glaringly absent was the real hero – the social media martyr who catalyzed the event. He was unavailable for comment in person or over the phone, but he sent a message of hope via Facebook: “I just want to quote my personal hero Martin Luther King who once said, ‘It’s not guns that will bring peace. It’s not arms that will bind us together. It’s the voice of ppl with Macbook Airs. It’s the will of lovers with a deep social media footprint. It’s the likes and shares of a population that will bring us serenity #preach #MLKhavemybaybay.’”

 

Winch

Checkin’ My Privilege and It Feels so…

Jeff checked his privilege. It was brown, wrinkled, and a little bit crusty. 

Let’s crawl, for one minute, out of the cavernous apertures nestled between our ivory-colored ass cheeks and honestly consider the phrase Check Your Privilege. Strip away all connotation and intent, sociopolitical context, even definition, and what remains, at its syntactical core, is a lonely imperative, of the same species as Do Your Taxes and Run, Forrest, Run. It is verb followed by possessive pronoun followed by direct object, followed by, more often than not, a poor upside-down i that wants nothing more than to run and hide behind a sentence of less absurd and eminently annoying consequence.

Now let’s add a layer of tone to the bare-boned sentence. And what tone shall we choose? We have the dry instructional tenor of the subway conductor – Stand Clear of the Closing Doors! The vicarious encouragement of the little league baseball coach – Run! Run! Run! And, this you’ll agree harmonizes most beautifully with our subject, the shrill exasperation of Your Mother – Clean Your Room, (insert first, middle, last name here)!

Here’s the part of the essay where we all agree that no one likes to be bossed around by his or her mother. Imperatives + Mothers = #$%*&!

If an invocation of Mothers wasn’t enough to send our phrase the way of “We are the 99%” we can grapple with the meatier side of Privilege, the side that grants liberals their throne of moral superiority and gives conservatives the fantods. We can discuss connotation, intent, sociopolitics, and even definition. We can deconstruct the sentence in aeternum, until Derrida’s corpse swears fealty to Searle and Quine. An honest consideration would do just that. But sometimes a phrase comes along that deserves no such consideration. Check Your Privilege is one such phrase.

When did it become acceptable, even essential, for honest debate to include the imperative? For a debate (or, if the word debate is too strong for you, for a discussion) to be truly fair, certain rules of the game need to be established pre factum: no handicaps or head starts, for one, and a shared burden of proof. More than anything, though, in order for a debate to be fair and fruitful, the parties must agree to subjugate themselves to their ideas, to act as mere stewards of logic and syllogism and nothing more. But the imperative imperils the playing field. The imperative issues command. Command assumes authority. And authority requires the relative positions of living, breathing human persons. In other words, the imperative gives one party a tactical advantage and reduces the debate to Medieval Inquisition. The hearing becomes a farce. The sentence has been preordained.

We used to be able to distinguish rhetoric from dialectic, poetry from philosophy, logos from pathos. Philosophers as early as Plato and Aristotle wrote distinct tomes on the respective methods of rhetoric and philosophy. Cicero’s On Oration and Quintilian’s Institutio Oratoria carried the discipline through Roman hegemony until it settled alongside grammar and logic as a core discipline in the Medieval universities of England, France, and Italy. And today, in a refreshing return from the neo-rhetorical obscurantism of postmodern philosophy, rhetoric is taking back its mantle as a discrete mode of communication.

And while Aristotle had a neutral take on the discipline as a whole, Plato’s view of rhetoric was unfavorable indeed. In Gorgias, one of his Socratic Dialogues, Plato argues that rhetoric is an affront to truth and wisdom, mere smoke and mirrors in the service of public persuasion. He compares rhetoric to cookery, the art of making objectionably unhealthy food taste good. Rhetoric is the MSG and high fructose corn syrup in the fast food of discourse.

He goes further. Rhetoric isn’t just dishonest in Plato’s estimation, but “is for each person the source of rule over others in one’s own city.” It is an object of control, wielded by those who would seek to rule the polis and obtain political power. In our case, in the case of Check Your Privilege, it is an object of control wielded by those who would seek to unjustly put the kibosh on reasoned debate and – well, who are we kidding? – rule the polis and obtain political power.

And that brings me to the upshot. Check Your Privilege is such a pathetic sound bite and such an affront to honest discourse that it only belongs in the most childish of debates, like the nationally broadcast presidential debates or the town hall primaries. When we begin to imitate the people who seek political power in our ground battle of ideas, we’ve all lost the war. For the sake of progress in the world of ideas, for the sake of integrity and fair play, for the sake of Plato himself, let’s start using the declarative.

Is Breast Cancer Awareness Month Bad?

Jeff likes to stutter, “B…b…b…but the corporations!”

Below is a point-by point response to a particularly gratuitous attack on the Breast Cancer Awareness phenomenon. Please read the article first, and then take a look at my responses.

“These events have been inundated with corporate sponsors who pledge to donate a small portion of their proceeds to breast cancer research—provided, of course, that you continue to buy their products. Everything, it turns out, sells better in pink.”

Yes, businesses piggyback on cultural phenomena for their own benefit. But that this purportedly “soils” the integrity of the phenomenon itself is ridiculous. First of all, businesses, especially brand-name corporations, also help to promote and propagate the cause. Yes, businesses grow because of the cause, but so does the cause. Secondly, Why is the fact that they are raising money through sales a blemish on the donations themselves? Should they not seek to make those marginal sales and have less profit from which to donate?

“The great hypocrisy of these corporations is that they purport to be raising money for a cure while simultaneously using ingredients in their products that can serve as risk factors for the disease.”

This point is totally valid. I agree with the author 100%.

“In 2011, only 15% of Susan G. Komen’s donations went to fund research grants.”

According to the same article from which this statistic was taken, “The organization’s 2011 financial statement reports that 43 percent of donations were spent on education, 18 percent on fund-raising and administration, 15 percent on research awards and grants, 12 percent on screening and 5 percent on treatment.” Such unworthy causes! It’s as if the author wants us to believe the majority of funds are going towards lavish Caribbean cruises.

“Much of the breast cancer awareness movement focuses on early detection and treatment, while a shockingly small amount of resources are allocated to prevention and research exploring the root causes of the disease.”

…So start your own damn non-profit that focuses on the root causes. It’s like saying Greenpeace is at fault for not funding aeronautics research.

“Breast cancer has only become relevant to wider society because white, middle class women have become the face of the disease.”

Thank you to all white, middle-class women who helped promote an important cause.

“The intense focus on breast cancer has also been used to water down feminism and divert attention from other more “controversial” women’s health issues, such as access to contraceptives and abortions.”

If charity is indeed a zero-sum game (which it is not because there are still untapped pockets of society who give less to charity than others), then use the force of those other important issues to divert resources back to those causes. Don’t tear down an important cause because it is getting in the way of your pet cause. That is chutzpah.

“Talk of “survivors” and the “fight” against cancer inherently suggests that those who succumb to their disease—those who “lose their battle”—have failed in a way that survivors have not.”

This strikes me as unwarranted hypersensitivity. That OBVIOUSLY is not the intent of the movement as a whole. Also, it is not the role of the “zeitgeist” to ensure the emotional security of every dying cancer patient. Different patients probably require different types of emotional support. The current culture offers an outpouring of optimism and hope, which probably soothes and comforts many, many, many patients. If the author would like to see a more realist message, she can start her own non-profit rather than shitting on hope.

 

- Winch

Why I read the news — and you should too.

The Great Bubble Machine - Matt Taibi's notoriously controversial takedown of Goldman Sachs.

            “The Great American Bubble Machine”              Matt Taibi’s controversial takedown of Goldman Sachs.

Jeff can’t be bothered.

I graduated from college at a time of great political and economic uncertainty. Two wars, congressional gridlock, and a global financial crisis had all taken their toll. For the first time, there was a sense that America was on the wrong side of history. Then I began paying attention to the news, poring over it in fact for hours at a time. What were the adults all talking about, now that I was one?

They were talking a lot about corruption. Matt Taibbi, it seemed, was raking up another example of corporate malfeasance every other week. And not just tax evasion. These were enormously complicated schemes involving unfathomable sums of money. After following several stories like this one I started to catch on. We weren’t simply on the wrong side of history. There were immensely powerful actors shaping history.

Steven Brill’s seminal exposé, “Bitter Pill,” drove the point home. It tells the story of how hospitals often engage in unconscionable price gouging, bankrupting the uninsured on even the most ordinary items. For one patient, gauze pads came in at $77 a box as part of his $348,000 hospital bill.

None of this is to say that individuals, or even individual institutions, can be blamed for the rash of challenges now facing this country. Nor is it to say that media outlets have the last word on the cause of the financial crisis or the integrity of the healthcare industry. But keeping abreast of the issues is essential to comprehending how the world works and why we are forced to operate under the conditions we do.

It is also essential to changing those conditions. If America is indeed in decline, it is not merely because it is subject to some inscrutable, inexorable historical process. History is made. And the first step to making history is to know how it develops out of the present.

I read the news because I want the “reality-based community” to be “history’s actors.”

Journalism is not just educational; it is political. Not because it can be partisan (though of course it often is) but because it can be empowering. If politics doesn’t excite you intellectually, if you have no sense of civic duty, then read the news to satisfy your own self-interest. Read it so you can practice informed consent when it comes to the decisions that will affect you and the future of this country the most.

The March 2013 issue of Time dedicated its entire feature section to Steven Brill's 24,105-word article. It was a first in magazine's 80-years history.

The March, 2013 issue of Time dedicated its entire feature section to Steven Brill’s 24,105-word article — a first in the magazine’s 90-plus years of circulation.

- D. Schwartz