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A magntiude 5.0 earthquake struck the Lebanon-Syria area on Feb. 15th, about 10 miles NE of Tyre, Lebanon, or about 45 miles NE of Haifa, Israel. This follows a 4.0 in the same general area on Feb. 11th. These are the latest in a series of earthquakes to hit the region, and there are fears that they are precursors to a major tremor.

Although the epicenter of the latest quakes was in Lebanon, Israel is still being blamed for them. Not by some Arabs or Muslims, but by some Jews.

This is not snark. See below.

Shas MK Shlomo Benizri blamed gays Wednesday for the earthquakes that have shaken the region in recent months, telling a Knesset plenum debate on local authorities' earthquake preparedness that government action on homosexuality would do much to prevent the tremors. Haaretz 20 Feb 2008

(Shas, for the five people left around here who don't know, is the ultra-Orthodox party led by Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. It primarily attracts Sephardic Jews - Jews from Arab countries - and, unlike some of the other Ultra-Orthodox, does not see any religious barrier to Zionist aspirations; they are currently part of the governing coalition.)

To continue:

"A cost-effective way of averting earthquake damage," [Benizri] added, "would be to stop passing legislation on how to encourage homosexual activity in the State of Israel, which anyways causes earthquakes."

And you thought Huckabee was bad. At least he's not - yet - in the government. Fortunately, not many people seem to be listening. In 2006, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that the state must recognize the civil marriages of gay couples from Toronto, where gay marriage is legal. (Marriage rules in Israel are enormously complicated, but for this purpose it suffices to say that Israel generally recognizes marriages made in other countries, even if those marriages would not be valid if performed in Israel itself.)

Although Shas is in his coalition, Prime Minister Olmert reportedly declined to comment on Benizri's remarks. And just 10 days ago, the attorney general announced that same-sex couples will have the same adoption rights as other couples. So it's not likely the threat of more earthquakes will change anything. But it is a new low, even for Shas.

Shortly after the latest Lebanon quake, there was a 5.7 quake in the Balleny Islands region off Australia, and the next day there was a 6.1 near Potosi, Bolivia, a very conservative Catholic city. On the 20th, there was a 7.4 off the coast of Sumatra, another conservative area, Muslim this time. No word of any comment from Shas on these apparent signs of divine displeasure.

Originally posted to DanK Is Back on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 10:15 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tips (17+ / 0-)

    I live in San Francisco. I'm gonna need that mojo when God sends an earthquake here to punish me for this diary.

    It is not the business of the state to help its citizens get into heaven nor to save them from hell.

    by DanK Is Back on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 10:15:08 AM PST

  •  There's a Fred Phelps everywhere (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shpilk, trivium

    Fortunately, the US doesn't have a monopoly on idiocy.

  •  Sounds familiar (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MBNYC, trivium, Myz Lilith, Leo in NJ

    wasn't it one of the crazies who said 911 was payback for being gay in NY.Think it might have been Falwell. Jewish or American doesn't matter this point they are not thinking clearly wouldn't you say?

    Think Tank. "A place where people are paid to think by the makers of tanks" Naomi Klein.

    by ohcanada on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 10:21:03 AM PST

  •  It looks to me from your report (7+ / 0-)

    that while Israel, too, has its fundamental crazies, it is actually doing a much better job of being fair to homosexuals than the "good ol' US of A."

    If you refuse to vote for OUR PARTY'S nominee in November, the blood of a thousand back-alley abortions will be on your hands.

    by dhonig on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 10:22:28 AM PST

  •  The new term being bandied about in Israel (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shpilk, MBNYC, trivium, DanK Is Back

    Shastitutes.  If you know what's going on with the Olmert coalition, it's self-explanatory.

    "I remember every detail. The Germans wore gray. You wore blue."

    by dfb1968 on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 10:25:21 AM PST

  •  This is how it works (3+ / 0-)

    Earthquakes are for losers. Last night, me and the BF decided we needed a lunar eclipse, and voila - we swathed the world in darkness.

    " I don't like labeling people....but MBNYC is scum." - Found on PFF

    by MBNYC on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 10:25:29 AM PST

  •  Wingnuts are wingnuts (0+ / 0-)

    Forgetting Israeli foreign policy or domestic policy for a minute, there is a risk to any form of theocracy and this is it.

    The good news is that Shas is a very small minority party.

    The bad news is that many many times the team with the largest number of seats does not have a majority so needs to form a coalition, and parties like Shas are willing to join whomever, as long as they get to control some key things like education.  So they get disproportionate influence.  Basically anyone who wants to get anything done in Israel has to kiss the collective butts of the religious right.  At least here, only the Republicans have to do that and if we can vote them out of power we relegate them to talk radio.

    Leads to a bunch of stupid things out there, like Reform Jews cannot get married by a Reform rabbi.  The only recognized marriages are Orthodox marriages, and the Orthodoxy does not consider Reform Jews to be Jews.  So you get honeymoon packages where you fly say to Italy for your honeymoon, and part of it is a quick civil ceremony that would be your legal marriage.  All packaged up for you so you don't have to worry about the details.  You have your religious wedding in Israel, but that wedding doesn't "count."



    Democrats *do* have a plan for Social Security - it's called Social Security. -- Ed Schultz

    by FredFred on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 10:25:54 AM PST

    •  Not true. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Any Jew can marry any Jew.  It doesn't matter if you're Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, or secular.  The only time people have to fly to Cyprus is when their conversion wasn't Orthodox, or they are trying to marry a non-Jew.

      Also, many, many Orthodox Rabbis will perform secular marriages.

      "I remember every detail. The Germans wore gray. You wore blue."

      by dfb1968 on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 10:29:40 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  What's a "secular marriage" in Israel? (0+ / 0-)

        As far as I understand, it does not exist.

        •  Civil marriages don't exist, (0+ / 0-)

          secular marriages do.  It's when an Orthodox Rabbi comes to your wedding, runs through the sheva b'rachot in about 2 minutes, ignores the really religious stuff, the groom smashes a glass, and everyone eats.

          As long as both parties are Jewish (through birth or proper conversion), the Rabbi doesn't give a shit if either person has ever been inside a shul.

          These go back to the earliest days of the State, when the Kibbutzim were very anti-religious, but they still understood the importance of having the Rabbis do the weddings.

          "I remember every detail. The Germans wore gray. You wore blue."

          by dfb1968 on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 11:16:47 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  It's also very lucrative (0+ / 0-)

            Weddings are a major source of income for many rabbis, one reason why the OJ establishment is so keen on keeping it their monopoly.

            It is not the business of the state to help its citizens get into heaven nor to save them from hell.

            by DanK Is Back on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 11:20:39 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Almost (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        but not quite. Any Jew can marry any other Jew in Israel, but the ceremony must be performed by a rabbi licensed by the state, and the Orthodox have prevented the state from recognizing any non-Orthodox rabbis. So even a Reform rabbi who agreed to perform a ceremony using Orthodox ritual would not be allowed to do so.

        Also, while the Ministry of the Interior still recognizes Reform Jews for purposes of the Law of the Return, the Orthodox establishment is expressing concern for the next generation because the Reform recognize patrilineal descent, which Orthodoxy does not.

        I saw something similar in my trip to Moscow a couple of weeks ago. I was shown a synagogue in Moscow that used to be a private home owned by a wealthy Jew in the XIX century. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, a Reform group collected money to buy the building and make it a synagogue, but the Lubavitcher managed to block it (apparently by bribing the city council, though this was not entirely clear) and turned it into a Chabad place, complete with pictures of Schneerson everywhere. (I understand that their antipathy to the Russian Reform has lessened a bit recently, now that they've won.)

        It is not the business of the state to help its citizens get into heaven nor to save them from hell.

        by DanK Is Back on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 11:19:44 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  It's good to be reminded (0+ / 0-)

    that the US isn't the only country with fundamentalist religious idjits. Sometimes it seems that way.

  •  I remember... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Catte Nappe, Leo in NJ

    ...when Massachusetts legalized gay marriage in May of '04. We had a beautiful summer, not too hot and without too much rain, and a lovely autumn.

    Louisiana and Mississippi voted afterward to amend their state constitutions to ban gay marriage by 80+% margins, and, well, I'm glad I'm not the kind of person who believes that God uses hurricanes like bowling balls to send a message to people he disapproves of.

  •  "hey buddy, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MBNYC, Pandoras Box

    did the earth move for you too?"

    We're shocked by a naked nipple, but not by naked aggression.

    by Lepanto on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 10:33:38 AM PST

  •  There was an earthquake in Nevada (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Catte Nappe

    of all places. I hear all sorts of debauchery goes on in Las Vegas.

  •  Well, I blame China! (0+ / 0-)

    Well, everything looks bad...if you REMEMBER it! - Homer Simpson

    by Pandoras Box on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 10:34:53 AM PST

  •  And the tornadoes! Don't forget about the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    tornadoes!  Maybe they just don't have them in Israel...

    •  We get the hamsins (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      shpilk, Myz Lilith

      The "East wind".  To call it a sandstorm really doesn't do it justice.  Usually at the end of one, I have a large portion of Saudi Arabia on my balcony.

      "I remember every detail. The Germans wore gray. You wore blue."

      by dfb1968 on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 10:37:21 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I remember an article by Ephraim Kishon (0+ / 0-)

        (Israel's Art Buchwald) on the chamsin. He said that it comes from the Arabic word (also Hebrew) for 50, meaning that it blows for 50 days. Actually, he went on, it blows for 100 days, "but the Arabs are great hands at bargaining."

        It is not the business of the state to help its citizens get into heaven nor to save them from hell.

        by DanK Is Back on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 11:22:34 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Slight Error on Sephardic Jews (0+ / 0-)

    They are the diaspora from the Spanish Inquisition, not Jews from Arab Countries.

    Jews from Iraq, Iran, Yemen, and India, are technically "Oriental Jews", and Jews from Romania and Holland are largely Sephardic.

    6/24/05: Charlie the Tuna Creator Dies En lieu of flowers, please bring mayonnaise, chopped celery and paprika.

    by LunkHead on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 10:37:10 AM PST

    •  Originally, yes (0+ / 0-)

      "Sepharad" means "Spain" in Hebrew, so, as you say, there is a connection between "Sephardim" and the Spanish expulsion. However, in the 500 years since them, it has taken on a wider meaning. Particularly in Israel, AFAIR, Jews identify themselves mainly as Ashkenazim (European, particularly Eastern Europe) or Sephardim (non-Ashkenazim).

      Shas recruits a lot from Moroccan and Yemeni Jews, and to the best of my knowledge calls them Sephardic.

      It is not the business of the state to help its citizens get into heaven nor to save them from hell.

      by DanK Is Back on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 11:27:07 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews (0+ / 0-)

        There is a useful distinction between Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews, although they are sometimes lumped together. Mizrahi Jews (those from the Arab Middle East and other eastern areas such as Iran, Georgia and Bukhara) are not descended from the people expelled from Spain at the end of the 15th century. Many Moroccan Jews descend from the Spanish expellees, but few if any Yemenite Jews do.

        A significant difference is that Sephardic Jews spoke and wrote in Ladino as their vernacular language, while Mizrahi Jews did not.

        Although the religious practice of Mizrahi Jews is consonant with the Sephardic tradition, each Mizrahi community has unique customs. It strikes me as Ashkenazic-centric to lump all non-Ashkenazim together as Sephardic.

  •  Well, one good thing, at least in Israel (0+ / 0-)

    they don't behead people or ties them to fence posts to die after beating themfor being gay.

    Shas, like Fred Phelps will never have any power to do anything, expect make noise and be an embarrassment.

    "If you want to go quickly, go alone.
    If you want to go far, go together.
    We have to go far, quickly."

    by shpilk on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 11:06:31 AM PST

    •  Actually, they have a lot of power (0+ / 0-)

      these days.  They're keeping the coalition in power, and Rav Yosef has single-handedly chosen the last two Presidents.  We certainly wish it weren't so, but they do unfortunately have a lot of power right now.

      "I remember every detail. The Germans wore gray. You wore blue."

      by dfb1968 on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 11:19:21 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Point being? (0+ / 0-)

    Every country has people in the government who are a bit (or a lot) off the wall.  So?  If anything, this proves that Israel is a normal country like any other, with its own crazies.

    As an aside, with respect to Israel's Supreme Court ruling, as far as I understand, the government must register the gay couple as married, but need not provide any marriage benefits.  

    •  Ben-Gurion used to say (0+ / 0-)

      Israel would be a normal country like any other when it had Jewish prostitutes and Jewish thieves. He didn't need to add Jewish crazies - there have always been those.

      The point is that, even for crazies, this was a bit off the wall. And it was said by an MK who is part of the governing coalition. It is to the government's credit that they appear not be paying attention, which, given Shas' position in the balance of power, takes no small amount of courage.

      It is not the business of the state to help its citizens get into heaven nor to save them from hell.

      by DanK Is Back on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 11:30:08 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Change the Gay Anthem (0+ / 0-)

    Instead of "It's Raining Men," the Gay Anthem should be changed to "I Feel the Earth Move"

    In loving memory: Sophie, June 1, 1993-January 17, 2005. My huckleberry friend.

    by Paul in Berkeley on Mon Feb 25, 2008 at 05:27:22 PM PST

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