Is a Kosher Phone Also Halal?

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Here's the latest story in the commerce-triumphs-over-politics subgenre of Middle East reporting: The Israeli cell phone company MIRS recently started offering a stripped-down, restricted mobile phone for ultra-Orthodox Jews that does not allow Internet access or text messaging and that blocks "more than 10,000 numbers for phone sex, dating services and other offerings" that community leaders consider inappropriate. The "kosher phone" has attracted inquiries from Arab cell phone providers interested in catering to the demands of conservative Muslims who, like the heredim, want to be connected but not too connected. "They have sought information from MIRS via envoys from Jordan," A.P. reports. If it's not exactly heartwarming that a shared interest in cultural isolation can bring Muslims and Jews together, it is slightly more encouraging than the purchase of Israeli flags from Israeli suppliers to be burned at anti-Israel demonstrations.

[Thanks to Chaim Katz for the link.]

NEXT: "We want to be operated like puppets and provided for like pets."

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  1. …or the heartwarming sight of Jerusalem’s Muslim, Christian, and Jewish leaders coming together to urge the government to block a gay rights march.

  2. This seems weird to me…

    So is the mentality behind things like this: in order to be a righteous person/live a righteous life, all temptation must be removed completely?

    I mean, why do you need to have access to these services blocked by the phone / service provider if you are a pious person? It’s not like the phone sex company is cold calling people. The only way to get connected to such “inappropriate” stuff is to actively seek it out and request the inappropriate material.

    Is the mentality with people who seek such things that temptation is not a natural part of life and that life should be sanitized of all temptation of “inappropriate” things?

    (I realize that there are uses, like parents giving these kind of things to their children who might have a harder time ignoring the temptation, but I don’t believe that is the target customer base. This has to be appealing to a large segment of adults as well)

  3. Yeah, if you’re such a pious person that you would never want to call one of these “inappropriate” things, why do you need them blocked? Unless, of course, you just have a massive hangup about the very existence of such things – gee, like that could ever happen with the ultra-religious…

    This reminds me of something I came across a while back: Covenant Eyes. Basically, it’s a service that reports on your internet activities to a chosen “accountability partner” of yours, so that someone will know if you’ve been looking at durty pictures or something. Seems to me like a service designed for those with strong urges, very little self-control, and a heavy dose of shame. Gotta love that old-time religion.

  4. why do you need to have access to these services blocked by the phone / service provider if you are a pious person?

    So they can give a cell phone to their kids?

    Let’s see: anti-gay, anti-decadence, anti-pork, write right to left in languages part of the same family tree, live in the same neighborhood…methinks they have a lot more in common than they think.

  5. It’s nice to see people united due to their supernatural idiocy.

  6. “methinks they have a lot more in common than they think.”

    My Middle Eastern History professor in college commented once that she hoped someone would write a comprehensive book exploring the similarities between traditional Judaism and traditional Islam but that she also recognized that anyone who wrote such a book would probably be assassinated shortly after publishing it.

  7. If you spent any time in the region or learning about each, you’d see pretty readily that Judaism and Islam are basically the same. They are both highly ritualistic, and have developed a lot of the same dogma over the years. Kosher/Halal is just the tip of the iceberg. To the extent that Christianity “broke away” from the Abrahamic tradition, those two stuck to ritual over spiritual.

    The contempt between the groups is the outgrwoth of a political conflict, not an innate tendency.

    And to answer ChicagoTom, that’s exactly the mentality. See no eveil means do no evil; but as we know, the more you repress or deny, the more perverse the ultimate expression becomes (witness Saudi men using Pakistani and Filipino boys as sex slaves).

  8. I mean, why do you need to have access to these services blocked by the phone / service provider if you are a pious person? It’s not like the phone sex company is cold calling people. The only way to get connected to such “inappropriate” stuff is to actively seek it out and request the inappropriate material.

    Say Amen, somebody!

    (P.S. I just saw the gospel documentary of the same name last weekend.)

  9. The thing that united Muslims, Christians and Jews (well, some of them at least) in Jerusalem a year or so ago was opposition to a gay pride parade.

  10. The thing that united Muslims, Christians and Jews (well, some of them at least) in Jerusalem a year or so ago was opposition to a gay pride parade.

    Well, then maybe the US should secretly finance more such gay demonstrations over there, so they can all get along, and advance the peace process.

  11. The real question is when is a company going to bring out a phone that automatically calls those inappropriate numbers no matter who you’re trying to dial. Sexiest phone ever.

  12. “If you spent any time in the region or learning about each, you’d see pretty readily that Judaism and Islam are basically the same.”

    It goes beyond just the religion. A semite’s a semite. They’re (almost) all just a bunch of pompous, belligerent assholes (kind of like the french, only more bellicose.) How they see themselves as so different from eachother is beyond me.

  13. On a related technology-clashes-with-religion note, I recently learned that when television was introduced to Saudi Arabia in 1965, there was some violence because it meant that (gasp) pictures of people would appear in people’s homes, in contradiction to that Muslim restriction:

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/saudi/etc/cron.html

    Partly because of his reputation as a pious Muslim, King Faisal was able to cautiously introduce Western technology as part of his modernization efforts, including the kingdom’s first television broadcasts in 1965. The introduction of television offended some Saudis, including one of the king’s nephews, who was killed in a police shootout after he lead an assault on one of the new television stations.

  14. In both Judaism and Islam, temptation must be avoided. Hense the reason why women are required to dress so conservatively under both religions. Islam more so, as no Jewish women are required to cover thier face, only married women must cover their hair. The reason being a women tempting and corrupting pious men by showing her body and inducing unpure thoughts and worse (rape, adultery) in males (which both religions recongnize as the natural and inevitable male reaction to a scantily dressed woman) This is why in Islamic societies women are blamed for rape, for tempting men by being so seductive.

  15. I cannot praise a fugitive and cloistered virtue, unexercised and unbreathed, that never sallies out and sees her adversary, but slinks out of the race, where that immortal garland is to be run for, not without dust and heat. Assuredly we bring not innocence into the world, we bring impurity much rather; that which purifies us is trial, and trial is by what is contrary.

  16. Last week the Business section of the Los Angeles Times reported on the World Ethnic Market trade show in Anaheim, that featured Kosher and Halal food producers exhibiting their products together.

    The article noted the similar dietary laws for observant Jews and Muslims – and pointed out the minor differences. It noted that the Kosher label is helpful to vegetarians – Pareve means no animal products.

    More significantly, it noted Muslims are a large part of the market for Kosher goods in the USA, because they are more easily found in markets than Halal products.

    Jews lived among Muslims in the Middle Ages when they were persecuted in Christian Europe. Only politics divides them now, and we know how fleeting political affinities can be.

  17. Let’s see: anti-gay, anti-decadence, anti-pork, write right to left in languages part of the same family tree, live in the same neighborhood…methinks they have a lot more in common than they think.

    🙂 Your worst enemy is that which is most like you — Charles Darwin

  18. The real question is when is a company going to bring out a phone that automatically calls those inappropriate numbers no matter who you’re trying to dial. Sexiest phone ever.

    You mean they’ve got those now? :O

  19. Jews lived among Muslims in the Middle Ages when they were persecuted in Christian Europe.

    Jews and Muslims lived peacefully together in the ME through most of history [after the initial Muslim waves settled down]. Until some idiots in Europe got the idea of carving Isreal out of the ME, and then some other idiots actually went and made it so.

    We’re at that stage of history where one might think that the stupidest ideas in the whole world came from Europeans.

    Well, Europeans certainly have no monopoly, but they have paid their dues.

  20. Maybe they can also invent a crayon that can’t be used to draw cartoons of Mohammed.

  21. Jews lived among Muslims in the Middle Ages when they were persecuted in Christian Europe.

    Well they were persecuted by the Arabs, not allowed to own land, have to pay the non-Muslim tax etc etc. There were parts of Muslim lands where they were left alone mostly as there were parts of Christendom where the same occured (like the Albigensian region of France). In fact one of the excuses for the Albi Crusade was the fact that Jews were in positions of power in Cathar regions.

  22. Jews and Muslims lived peacefully together in the ME through most of history [after the initial Muslim waves settled down]. Until some idiots in Europe got the idea of carving Isreal out of the ME, and then some other idiots actually went and made it so.

    I agree that Europeans are stupid, but the rest is BS. There were many pogroms against the Jews by Arabs.

  23. I agree that Europeans are stupid, but the rest is BS. There were many pogroms against the Jews by Arabs.

    Where and when?

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