Friday, November 16, 2012

Six women detained for wearing prayer shawls at Western Wall

Six women were detained by Jerusalem police for wearing prayer shawls at the Western Wall as more than 100 women gathered there for the monthly Women of the Wall service.

The detainments Thursday, on the first day of the Hebrew month Kislev, follow the arrest at last month's service of Women of the Wall leader Anat Hoffman. Hoffman was not at Thursday’s service, as she was banned from the Wall for 30 days following her arrest on Oct. 17.

The detainments occurred before the service began as women were putting on their tallitot.

“We came to pray, especially today, for the peace of the state,” said Lesley Sachs, one of the detainees, referring to fighting in Israel’s South between Israel and Hamas.

Women of the Wall has held a special prayer service at the holy site nearly each month for the last 20 years on Rosh Chodesh, or the beginning of new Hebrew month, at the back of the women's section. Western Wall regulations dictate that women cannot wear tallitot, or prayer shawls, as it contravenes the “local custom” as determined by the Western Wall’s chief rabbi.

In 2003, Israel's Supreme Court upheld a government ban on women wearing tefillin or tallitot, or reading from a Torah scroll at the Western Wall

While many of the women at the service wore tallitot, most wore them in the fashion of a scarf, sidestepping the regulation.

Following Hoffman’s arrest last month, the Israel Religious Action Center, which advocates for religious pluralism, said it planned to submit a petition to Israel’s Supreme Court aiming to change how the Wall’s regulations are decided at the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, which administers the Wall. Hoffman told JTA last month that Women of the Wall hopes to be given one hour to pray every month.

A mix of younger and older women attended the service, along with a handful of male supporters.

“It’s important for me to support women and men who want to come one hour a month,” said Laura Wharton, another detainee. -- JTA

News Analysis: Deterrence is the idea behind Israel’s strikes in Gaza, but how far will conflict with Hamas go?

The Iron Dome defense system firing missiles to intercept incoming rockets
from Gaza in the port town of Ashdod, Nov. 15, 2012.
(Tsafrir Abayov/Flash90)
Wage war to make peace.

That’s the idea behind Israel’s strikes this week against Hamas targets in Gaza, including Wednesday’s attack that killed Hamas military chief Ahmed Jabari.

What’s not clear is how far Israel’s Operation Pillar of Defense will go, what price Israeli civilians will pay in the conflict, whether it will succeed in its goal of deterring Hamas from future attacks on Israel and what consequences there might be for Jerusalem’s fragile relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood-led government in Egypt. -- Ben Sales, JTA

To read more, click here.

As offensive rages, Hamas resorts to disinformation

Palestinians in the al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City following an Israeli air strike on November 14, 2012
(photo credit: Abd Rahim Khatib/Flash90)
Islamic movement claims it struck Tel Aviv, while eulogizing its slain military leader; Abbas condemns rocket fire on Israel. -- Elhanan Miller, Times of Israel

To read more, click here.

Study: Orthodox Jewish males transmitted mumps in school

A mumps outbreak in New York and New Jersey in which 97 percent of the more than 3,500 cases were Orthodox Jews was a result of the way Orthodox boys are schooled, according to a new study.

A study on the June 2009 to June 2010 outbreak in New York City, two upstate New York counties and one New Jersey county home to a high percentage of Orthodox Jews appears in the Nov. 1  2012 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Adolescents 13 years to 17 years of age, representing 27 percent of all the patients, and males, representing 78 percent of patients in that age group, were disproportionately affected, according to the study abstract. Most of the boys had been vaccinated against the disease.

Most of the boys that contracted the disease studied in Jewish yeshiva high schools, "where students spend many hours daily in intense, face-to-face interaction," according to the study abstract, leading to the mumps' spread.

The study concluded that  "intense exposures, particularly among boys in schools, facilitated transmission and overcame vaccine-induced protection in these patients." -- JTA

N.J. kosher cheese company bidding for recovery after Sandy

The New Jersey warehouse of Anderson International Foods
lost power from superstorm Sandy,
making hundreds of thousands of boxes unusable.
(Chavie Lieber)
A flooded warehouse, decomposed wall beams, sodden sheetrock, crumbling brick walls, a fried electrical system and about $2 million worth of rotten cheese waiting to be chucked: That’s only a glimpse of the woes facing Brigitte Mizrahi.

Mizrahi owns Anderson International Foods, a small kosher cheese company she founded in 1995, and her warehouse is located in an industrial area of Jersey City about a mile from the Hudson River waterfront. Although the facility isn't in the designated flood zone, it was under four feet of water soon after superstorm Sandy blew through town two weeks ago. --  Chavie Lieber, JTA

To read more, click here.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Forward releases its list of the top 50 Jews in America

The Forward releases its list of the 50 most influential Jews in America.

Top Five are:
  • Sheldon Adelson
  • Alys Raisman
  • Philip Glass
  • Lena Dunham
  • David Zwiebel
To view the complete list and the accompanying article, click here.

Female kosher supervisors deemed 'immodest'

Women requesting to join courses training kashrut supervisors discover they are now open to men only. Emunah organization threatens to petition Israel High Court against Chief Rabbinate -- Ynet

To read more, click here.

Israeli volunteers head to N.Y. to help in Sandy relief efforts

A delegation of Israeli volunteers is on its way to the New York area to assist the Jewish community in the wake of superstorm Sandy.

The volunteers, young adult Russian speakers, will be in New York for 10 days to assist the Jewish community, with a focus on Russian speakers, according to the Jewish Agency.  They will help distribute food and other essential items to the elderly and provide social visits, as well as clean communal buildings and synagogues that suffered heavy damage in the storm.

The delegation includes volunteers from pre-army programs and other programs run by the Israeli Scouts, as well as former camp counselors at Jewish Agency summer camps in the former Soviet Union.

Some 200,000 Russian-speaking Jews reside in the northeastern United States in areas badly damaged by the storm. Many of the elderly Russian-speaking Jews live in multi-story buildings in the New York area, some of which are still without electricity or phone service. The storm also damaged Jewish communal buildings, causing the cancellation of many community and social services. -- JTA

Space-age rapid transit to debut in Tel Aviv

Magnets pull skyTran vehicles off the ground.
If all goes as planned, within two years Israelis will be the first people to try out a futuristic rapid transport system designed by NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, California.

The skyTran uses two-person modules that drive along a guide rail suspended from existing power lines. Magnets in the vehicle create a magnetic field around the metal coil inside the rail, causing the vehicle to lift up and glide 60 miles per hour on a cushion of air. The system uses very little energy and potentially could be powered entirely by solar panels.

“Our objective is to build a pilot project here so that we can make Israel the center of the skyTran world,” CEO Jerry Sanders tells ISRAEL21c.

The first route, on which construction could begin next spring, would run from the high-tech center in Atidim through the Tel Aviv University train station to the Tel Aviv-Jaffa Port. Another installation might be placed on Netanya’s congested east side and a third would take people into and around Ariel Sharon Park, a huge public “green belt” in central Israel.

Personal rapid transit (PRT) alternatives are in hot demand worldwide – especially in big countries such as China and India — as a means to relieve traffic jams and energy consumption. Underground solutions are expensive and street-level solutions just add more congestion.

“We are the most sophisticated PRT on the market … and also the least expensive, greenest and most efficient,” asserts Sanders. -- Abigail Klein Leichman, Israel21c

To read more, click here.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Commentary: Back to the Wall--A letter to my sister, ‘on the fence’

Anat Hoffman, the Women of the Wall leader
arrested last month in Jerusalem, says her group
will return to the Western Wall to pray on Thursday
and urges other Jewish women to join her.
Photo: Marc Israel Sellem /The Jerusalem Post

The rabbi and others want you, as a non-ultra-Orthodox woman, to go pray at Robinson’s Arch, and not at the Kotel, where Am Yisrael has prayed for thousands of years. -- Anat Hoffman, Jerusalem Post

To read more, click here.

For Congregation Leaders, Hurricane Is Taking a Toll

Rabbi Marjorie Slome, left, held the Sabbath service on Friday
at West End Temple in the Rockaways in Queens
where prayer books and Torah commentaries were ruined by flooding.
Kirsten Luce for The New York Times
...Across the vast region hit by Hurricane Sandy, dozens of houses of worship are dealing with an extraordinary circumstance. Normally, their clergy members and lay leaders would be spending these weeks occupied with the urgent mission of feeding and caring for congregants hurt by the storm. But leaders of congregations whose buildings were flooded, damaged or destroyed are finding themselves in the emotionally difficult position of having to ask for help themselves.

In the Rockaways section of Queens, Rabbi Marjorie Slome visits her Reform Jewish congregation, West End Temple, each day to see what she can salvage. All of the prayer books and Torah commentaries were ruined when flooding filled the basement and reached up to four feet on the first floor. The sanctuary, offices and social hall were covered in inches of muck.

“I fully expected to come in here on Tuesday and open up my temple to serve the community and let it be a food distribution place,” she said. “And we couldn’t. Instead, I’m going around telling volunteers helping us, ‘It’s unsanitary: put your mask on; wear your gloves.’ ”...

One aspect of the storm’s aftermath is how some clergy members are themselves suffering, said Rabbi Daniel Freelander, senior vice president of the Union for Reform Judaism. Some rabbis, he said, had told him they found the week after the storm “one of the most exhausting of their lives.”

Some clergy members remain without power in their own homes, yet they spend their days calling and visiting their congregants, helping them through their losses and isolation. “It’s an emotional overload,” Rabbi Freelander said. “It’s like having 30 funerals in a week.”

Some congregations have flood insurance, but others do not, adding to that stress. While offers of help have poured in from all over, matching the resources with the needs can itself be a bewildering full-time task, particularly when communication through landlines is spotty, and when so many congregants are displaced....

Jewish congregations took special steps to deal with damaged texts that they view as sacred. In Brooklyn, where Friends of Refugees of Eastern Europe of Brighton Beach, a Lubavitch synagogue and school, had been flooded under six feet of water, worshipers laid waterlogged Torah scrolls across the pews in an effort to salvage the parchment. Chesed shel Emes, an Orthodox emergency recovery squad, rushed to Ohab Zedek Synagogue in Belle Harbor, Queens, to pull holy books out of the water-filled basement. And in the Rockaways, volunteers at the West End Temple separated out a pile of damaged prayer books that according to Jewish law need to be buried.  -- Sharon Otterman, NY Times

To read more, click here.

Canadian lawmaker Cotler calls for recognition of Jewish refugees

Canadian lawmaker Irwin Cotler proposed a motion in Parliament calling for government recognition of some 850,000 Jews forcibly displaced from Arab lands since Israel's creation in 1948.

In his Nov. 8 motion, Cotler, a former Canadian justice minister, noted that by rejecting the U.N.'s Partition Resolution of 1947-1948, Arab states "launched their double aggression of a war against the nascent Jewish state and assaults on their own Jewish nationals, resulting in two refugee populations, Palestinian refugees and Jewish refugees from Arab countries."

The time has come, said Cotler, "to restore the pain and plight of Jewish refugees from Arab countries to the international peace and justice narrative from which it has been eclipsed these past 60 years."

The motion calls on Canada to recognize that since 1948, there have been more than 170 U.N. resolutions on Palestinian refugees, "yet not one resolution that makes any reference to, nor is there any expression of concern for, the plight of the 850,000 Jews displaced from Arab countries."

It also asks that the annual Nov. 29 commemoration by the United Nations of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People "should be transformed into an International Day of Solidarity for a Two-People, Two-State Solution -- as the initial 1947 Partition Resolution intended."

Cotler, of the Liberal Party, wants Ottawa to recognize "that any comprehensive Middle East peace agreement must address and resolve all outstanding issues relating to the legitimate rights of all refugees, including Jews, Christians and other populations, displaced from countries in the Middle East."

He expressed hope that the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs will hold hearings on the matter similar to ones in the U.S. Congress, the Italian parliament and the British Parliament, before which Cotler testified as an expert witness. -- JTA

Israeli fund, citing overflow of requests, turns away Holocaust survivors

A fund that helps Israeli Holocaust survivors pay medical expenses told recipients that it would stop receiving applications until next year, citing an overflow of requests.

The Israeli news site Ynet reported that the Foundation for the Benefit of Holocaust Victims in Israel this week suspended the transfer of funds to more than 8,000 survivors eligible for benefits.

The foundation has been receiving 100 to 150 such requests every day this year and thus far has paid out $7.7 million to 9,100 applicants. Its dedicated budget for such reimbursements has a shortfall of $5.1 million, Ynet reported.

Rony Kalinsky, the foundation's general manager, blamed the government for the budget shortage, according to Ynet. The Finance Ministry said it had increased its contribution in recent years. The foundation operates independently of the state.

The fund reimburses low-income survivors for medical bills of up to approximately $1,000 that they already have paid from their own pockets. The reimbursements cover dental services, hearing aids and prescription glasses.

Established in the 1990s, the foundation is funded by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, which covers 60 percent of its budget. Another 30 percent comes from the Israeli Ministry of Finance, and the rest comes from other donors.

The organization's overall budget this year was $112.5 million. -- JTA

Israel’s scientists make inroads against Alzheimer’s disease

Prof. Moussa Youdim with the drug he developed
Advances in brain science, drug discovery and memory enhancement are helping in the fight against a devastating and fatal condition. -- Avigayil Kadesh, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

To read more, click here.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Rescued from Kristallnacht, a family Torah reaches a new generation

Charlotte Smith and Rabbi Jerry Levy
at the dedication of the family Torah scroll rescued by
her great-great-grandfather, at AlmaVia,
a senior residence community in San Rafael, Calif., Oct. 2012.
|Julie Ann Kodmur)
It was the "Night of Broken Glass" in Germany, Kristallnacht -- a national pogrom of death and destruction of Jewish property and the rounding up of Jews -- and Dietrich (David) Hamburger was in hiding.

Hamburger was the leader of a small congregation that met in his home in Fuerstenau, a countryside village in what now is the province of Niedersachsen. Someone had warned him about the coming onslaught, and on Nov. 9, 1938 he went into hiding in the local Catholic hospital.

"The cover story was that he was in for a hernia," said Edith Strauss Kodmur, his granddaughter and the family's historian.

This spring -- 75 years later and a continent away at a Californian winery -- Kodmur's granddaughter will have her bat mitzvah. And Charlotte Ruth Smith on that day will read from the Torah scroll that her great-great-grandfather rescued soon after that tragic night. -- Edmon J. Rodman, JTA

To read more, click here.

500 Rabbis Join Push for Alan Gross Release

Protest Set in Florida as Cuba Orchestra Plays

Picture from the Forward

More than 500 rabbis urged the release of Alan Gross, citing the possibility that he has a cancerous growth.

"We would urge your government to release Mr. Gross on humanitarian grounds," said the letter sent Sunday to Cuban President Raul Castro. "Alternatively, if despite his and his family’s suffering over the past three years in prison you remain determined to detain him, we would urge you to allow a doctor of his choosing to evaluate and treat him for whatever medical conditions that he may have."

The letter cites an assessment last month of Gross' Cuban medical records by Dr. Alan Cohen, a radiologist in Bethesda, Md., that said what Cuban doctors identified as a hematoma behind Gross' right shoulder is likely a tumor.

"A soft tissue mass in an adult who has lost considerable weight must be assumed to represent a malignant tumor unless proven to be benign," Cohen wrote.

Most of the rabbis signing the letter are American and represent all streams, including leaders of religious umbrella bodies. A number of the rabbis are from Israel and Canada.

Gross, 63, of Potomac, Md., was sentenced last year to 15 years in prison for "crimes against the state." He was arrested in 2009 for allegedly bringing satellite phones and computer equipment to members of Cuba’s Jewish community while working as a contractor for the U.S. Agency on International Development.

Gross' wife, Judy, was due Sunday to join a rally for his release to take place outside a performance in West Palm Beach, Fla., by the Cuban Symphony Orchestra.

Half of Jewish communal organizations have taken significant steps to welcome gays and lesbians and their families, a new survey found.

A new survey of Jewish communal organizations found that 50 percent of them have taken significant steps to welcome gays and lesbians and their families.

The Jewish Organization Equality Index provides benchmarks for gauging and improving policies regarding gay, lesbian bisexual and transgendered persons at North American Jewish communal organizations. The index was released Sunday by the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBT civil rights organization.

Some 204 Jewish communal organizations, or about 10 percent of the organizations invited to take part, participated in the survey.

The index found that 98 percent of participating membership-based organizations offer same-sex couples family memberships; 90 percent use inclusive terms in their publicity materials; and 73 percent have a written non-discrimination policy.

The index also found that 75 percent of participating organizations have not specifically recruited LGBT individuals to their lay leadership board in the past three years, and that 79 percent have not targeted the LGBT community in workplace recruitment efforts.

“We applaud the organizations that participated and are taking important steps to foster LGBT inclusion, but we still have a long way to go until LGBT Jews -- indeed, all Jews -- are embraced as full and vital members of the Jewish family in every aspect of communal life," said Lynn Schusterman, a major Jewish philanthropist and one of the index's funders. "We have an opportunity to use these findings to truly commit ourselves to the vital but challenging work of forging a culture in which inclusivity, diversity and equality are paramount. The question is: will we?”

Other funders include the Morningstar Foundation, Stuart Kurlander and an anonymous donor. -- JTA

Jewish Australian, 99, celebrates his bar mitzvah

A 99-year-old man living in Australia celebrated his bar mitzvah.

Isaac Volinsky joined a group of about 40 Jews from the former Soviet Union at a Chabad house near Sydney’s Bondi Beach last week for the first time.

When Rabbi Eli Schlanger discovered that Volinsky had never been to the weekly “120 Club” for elderly expatriate Soviets, he asked the Odessa native if he would like to put on tefillin. Schlanger said Volinsky told him he never had a bar mitzvah.

“It was an amazing scene,” Schlanger said. “The first time a Jewish boy puts on tefillin is regarded as his bar mitzvah and all the club members treated it as a simcha. They were all standing and singing ‘mazel tov.' ”

Schlanger, who speaks Yiddish and “enough Russian for the elderly to smile,” said Volinsky was “absolutely mobile and lucid.”

Volinsky, a former colonel in the Russian army, will celebrate his centenary in six months. -- JTA

London soccer club threatened with legal action if ‘Yid’ chants don’t stop

London's Tottenham Hotspur soccer team defended fans who call themselves "Yids," saying they adopted the term as a defense against anti-Semitic taunting.

The Society of Black Lawyers this week threatened to file a complaint with the Metropolitan Police by Nov. 20 unless Tottenham Hotspur and the Football Association make greater efforts to end what they say is anti-Semitic chanting.

In a statement in response, the team said the terms were used to push back against abuse.

"Our fans adopted the chant as a defense mechanism in order to own the term and thereby deflect anti-Semitic abuse," the team said. "They do not use the term to others to cause any offense."

Supporters of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club in the 1970s appropriated the terms "Yid," "Yiddo" and "Yid Army" as a defense against fans from opposing teams who taunted them with the epithets.

Tottenham is a north London neighborhood that in the early 20th century had a substantial Jewish population. The team has long enjoyed Jewish support and was one of the first British teams to farm Israel for players.

The Society of Black Lawyers says Tottenham's tolerance of the term encourages racist chants from fans of rival teams, often during matches held at Tottenham’s White Hart Lane stadium. -- JTA

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Chosen: Jews in the 113th Congress

The next US Congress will have 10 Jews in the Senate and 22 in the House of Representatives, a decline from the 113th Congress. -- JTA

To view more, click here.

Opinion: Let’s Dance at The Kotel

In another response to the recent arrest of Anat Hoffman, one rabbi argues that we need to stop battling for the religious outcomes of the Kotel and return to the business of being Jewish. -- Rabbi Ben Greenberg*, MyJewish Learning

Rabbi Greenberg is senior rabbi of BMH-BJ: The Denver Synagogue, Denver's largest and oldest Modern Orthodox synagogue

To read more, click here.

Hail to the chief: Americans eyed in search for Britain's top rabbi

David Karp / AP, file
Although the official selection committee for a new chief rabbi remains mum, the Jewish press has put Rabbi Jonathan Rosenblatt, the leader of a thriving congregation in the Bronx on the most recent short list. Rosenblatt denies that he is a contender for the position. -- Rachel Elbaum, NBC News

To read more, click here.

Intel injects $5m. in Israeli education project

Intel CEO Paul Otellini is in Israel to launch the chip-maker’s new partnership with the Ministry of Education. Their joint project includes a $5 million investment – by Intel – in Israeli high schools over the next four years. At a press conference in Jerusalem, Otellini said the project’s goal is “to double the number of high school students completing their science and technology matriculation certificate.” Intel is currently investing $100 million worldwide in education. “We are perhaps the largest private employer in Israel and most of those employees have technological know-how. Some of our most sophisticated engineering efforts are carried out in Israel,” said Otellini. “We have been in Israel for 40 years and we have done many things. We’re here for the long term and we will decide next year regarding our next factory,” he added. -- Israel21c

Sunday, November 11, 2012


This Sunday, November 11, is Veterans Day, the day on which we remember and honor men and women of the armed forces. What better way for members of Women's League for Conservative Judaism to commemorate this day then to contribute to the 2012 biennial convention's Value Our Vets chesed project.

In this initiative, Women's League members have undertaken the commitment to provide food and necessities for veterans (and their families) who stay temporarily at the West Los Angeles Fisher House while undergoing medical treatment at the Los Angeles VA facility. We are asking sisterhoods, individual members, family, and friends to provide gift cards for local grocery stores, restaurants and pharmacies that will help defray some of the costs incurred by the families. We will accept monetary donations and purchase gift cards that will be included as part of the major gift. Your contribution will be a small token of our respect and gratitude for those who have contributed so much.

Scientology makes few waves in Israel

The main hall of the Scientology center in port city of Jaffa Tel Aviv, Israel.
Ariel Schalit

The Church of Scientology has apparently found one place where its presence doesn't set off alarms, protests and demonstrations, and that place is one of the world's most religiously fraught countries, Israel.

In August, Scientology opened a gleaming new headquarters in the ancient port city of Jaffa, part of Tel Aviv. Since then, visitors and the curious have streamed through with no incidents.

And this in a country where Jews and Muslims harbor clashing claims over the same holy sites, sometimes sparking violence, and competing Jewish streams disparage each other openly and often.

Scientology has confronted charges in many countries that it is a dangerous cult that brainwashes its followers and confiscates their assets. Its leaders deny that....

Germany, France and Russia are among the governments that keep a close eye on Scientology, and court cases have been filed against the church in some places.

In contrast, there hasn't been much public opposition in Israel.

While a 1987 Israeli parliamentary commission declared it a cult, the practice of Scientology in Israel is legal. The new headquarters has some 200 staff and claims to serve thousands.  -- Lauren E. Bohn, The Associated Press via the Philadelphia Inquirer.

To read more, click here.

'Bug-free' veggies to be declared not kosher

Bye bye 'kosher' lettuce? 


Following chief rabbi's ruling, Rabbinate to revoke kashrut certificate of leafy vegetables sprayed with excessive amount of pesticides. -- Kobi Nahshoni, Ynetnews

To read more, click here.

Israeli rescue team leaves for Ghana

The collapsed mall (Photo: AP)
A team of Israeli military experts left for Ghana in the wake of the collapse of a four-story shopping mall in the country's capital.

The delegation includes rescue engineers, medical personnel and communication experts, as well as equipment specifically designed to rescue people trapped under the ruins.

The  team left from Nevatim Air Force base for Accra late Wednesday, hours after the building collapsed, leaving at least four dead, dozens injured and others believed to be trapped in the rubble.

A Magen David Adom team was scheduled to leave Thursday for Accra with plans to set up a field hospital. -- JTA

Also see article by YNetnews

Analysis: The Saudis are bulldozing Islam's heritage. Why the silence from the Muslim world?

The long-cherished ambition of Saudi Arabia’s ruling Wahhabi sect to smash up the ancient buildings of Mecca and Medina is nearing fruition.

In Mecca, the house of one of Mohammed’s wives has been demolished to make space for public lavatories. His birthplace may disappear, too, as part of King Abdullah’s scheme to complement the skyscrapers and shopping malls with a Grand Mosque fashioned from the same materials as a multi-storey car park in Wolverhampton. As for Islam’s second holiest place, the city of Medina, a recent article by Jerome Taylor in the Independent revealed a megalomaniac plan to pull down three 7th-century mosques. Taylor added: “Ten years ago, a mosque which belonged to the Prophet’s grandson was dynamited. Pictures of the demolition that were secretly taken and smuggled out of the kingdom showed the religious police celebrating.”

Only a small minority of the world’s billion Muslims are Wahhabis, despite the tens of billions of petrodollars spent by the Saudis propagating their creed. (Bosnia, for example, is now littered with Saudi-style mosques, replacing the graceful Ottoman architecture that Wahhabis detest.) Many pilgrims to Mecca are revolted by the marriage of Puritanism and greed they find there. Yet protests are scattered and muted. Why? -- Damian Thompson, Telegraph UK

To read more, click here.