Saying Goodbye to Elaine Stritch

The late actress and singer left her bold and brassy mark on show business

Elaine Stritch performs during a White House music series concert at the White House July 19, 2010 in Washington, DC. (Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images)

Elaine Stritch would probably have been pleased to know that news of her death on Thursday at 89 pushed world events like the conflict in Gaza or the downed Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 off the front pages, at least for a couple of hours. Stritch made her name not only with her great, idiosyncratic style, but as a monster; her unbridled rage as much a part of her persona as her rakish hats and perpetual pantlessness (after all, the legs are the last to go).

Watch her implode while recording her signature number, “The Ladies Who Lunch” in the documentary of the making of the original cast recording of Company. Recall her many cantankerous and profanity-laden talk show appearances. Consider the unbridled, take-no-prisoners anecdotes sprinkled throughout her award-winning one-woman show, At Liberty, which of course she always was.

She may have been an angry woman (a close friend, in a profile for the New York Times, described one of her explosions as “Medea-like”), but she was an interestingly angry one. Stritch’s aggression never stemmed from diva-tude or entitlement. She was angry not because she wanted things to be right, but because she needed them to be. Her rage didn’t mask insecurity; it was her insecurity, or rather, her vulnerability. It was the way she showed her deepest self. (more…)

Israel Pulls Embassy Staff out of Turkey

After violent protests against Israeli military action in Gaza target embassies

Turkish protestors kick police barriers during a demonstration to denounce the Israeli military operations in Gaza on July 18, 2014 in front of the Israeli Consulate in Istanbul. (OZAN KOSE/AFP/Getty Images)

After violent protests against Israel’s military operation in Gaza erupted outside the Israeli embassy in Istanbul and the Israeli ambassador’s home in Ankara on Thursday, Israel announced that it would be removing most of its diplomatic staff from the country, the Times of Israel reports.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, meanwhile, accused Israel of state terrorism and genocide. “Israel threatens world peace. Israel threatens peace in the Middle East. Therefore, I personally, can never contemplate anything positive with Israel as long as I remain on duty,” he told reporters. (more…)

What a Trip

An excerpt from Planetary Science, by Emily Adelsohn Corngold

(Derek Shapton/Gallery Stock)

Each Friday, Tablet publishes a work of original fiction. The following is an excerpt from Planetary Science, by Emily Adelsohn Corngold, which was published today on Tablet.

“I wonder what Rob’s going to make of that meteor,” Mitch’s wife said to him at home, as he sat at his computer anxiously pecking out an email to his group’s secretary regarding the validity of the multiple-entry Russian visa he and Conrad had obtained some 14 months earlier, when they had attended a scientific meeting at the Sternberg Astronomical Institute in Moscow. “Remember that time—when was that? When Rob asked your mom to check out that crate of rocks he brought back from Israel?” (more…)

In Defense of Chelsea Handler’s Hitler Parody

There may have been more going on here than an attempt at a cheap laugh

Chelsea Handler on December 12, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Mike Windle/Getty Images for amfAR)

It’s pretty hard to get through the World Cup without referencing World War II (honestly, it’s pretty hard to get through anything without referencing World War II), but in a year when Germany takes the championship, it’s next to impossible. The latest comedian/sudden sports fan to jump on the Germany = Nazis bandwagon is comedian Chelsea Handler, who featured a segment on her late night show, Chelsea Lately, in which her diminutive sidekick, Chuy, appeared in a Hitler costume, ostensibly in honor of the German victory. One of her panelists quipped: “I’m a Jew, and I’m glad the Germans won. It’s nice for them to have something gold they didn’t pry out of my grandfather’s mouth.”

The ADL cried foul (perhaps the only thing more predictable than Nazi jokes at an international soccer tournament) because of the trivialization of genocide, the appearance of a Hitler moustache on television, yada yada yada. Fair enough. That’s their job, to be offended, just like Handler’s job, in a nutshell, is to give offense, and hey, we all got rent to pay. But to disavow Handler’s act in its totality (whether you think it’s funny or not) is to ignore some of the deeper identity issues at play. (more…)

Pope Francis Marks Anniversary of JCC Bombing

Deadly 1994 attack on Buenos Aires Jewish center killed 85 and injured 300

Relatives hold portrait of victims of the terrorist bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center, in which 85 people were killed and 300 were injured, during the commemoration of its 20th anniversary in Buenos Aires on July 18, 2014.(DANIEL GARCIA/AFP/Getty Images)

Today is the 20th anniversary of the deadly bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, in which 85 people were killed and 300 more were injured. It was the deadliest attack on Latin American soil, though no arrests have been made in the intervening two decades.

The investigation, meanwhile, has been marred by decades of incompetence and corruption—last year Argentina appointed Iran to help investigate the crime, which is largely believed to have been carried out by Hezbollah. At the time, Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon likened the development to “inviting the murderer to participate in the murder investigation.”

Pope Francis, who was formerly the archbishop of Buenos Aires, has released a video commemorating the somber anniversary. (more…)

Bulgaria Bus Bomber Identified Two Years Later

Suicide bomber killed five Israeli tourists and their bus driver in 2012 attack

Members of the Israeli rescue and recovery squad collect evidence during investigations at the Airport in Burgas on July 19, 2012, site of a suicide blast targeting Israelis the day earlier. (STR/AFP/GettyImages)

Bulgaria has identified the suicide bomber who blew up a bus full of Israeli tourists on July 18, 2012, killing five Israelis and the bus driver and wounding 35 others, the AP reports. Mohamad Hassan El-Husseini, 23, was a dual Lebanese-French citizen who was born in Lebanon. The announcement, which comes exactly two years after the attack, followed a slow and at times meandering investigation. (more…)

In Jerusalem, The Show Must Go On

New Israeli films and the occasional siren at the Jerusalem Film Festival

The entrance to Jerusalem's old city, near the Tower of David and Jaffa Gate(Shutterstock)

This year’s Jerusalem Film Festival, which ends Sunday, will surely go down as one of the annual event’s most memorable editions—and mainly for the right reasons. The festival opened last week at the Jerusalem Cinematheque, which from its breathtaking perch above the Valley of Hinnom, across from the Old City walls, regularly serves as this complicated city’s greatest cultural refuge. Festival and Cinematheque alike have weathered worse storms than Operation Protective Edge—two Intifadas, for example—and the festival, which prides itself on hosting an impressive contingent of international guests, has faced this latest uphill battle with aplomb.

That said, there were still some hiccups. Korean director Chan-wook Park (Oldboy) was on hand to give a master class, but Spike Jonze, the festival’s other major headliner, despite having already arrived in Israel, decided to opt out of the festival at the last moment, writing:

It felt like the wrong time for me to be talking about movies with everything going on. I hope you understand. I will come back again and screen movies and talk film with you when the time is right.


Looking Beyond the Numbers in Gaza

Is Israel targeting civilians in Gaza? It’s more complicated than it may appear

Smoke billows from a building hit by an Israeli air strike in Gaza City on July 17, 2014(THOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty Images)

The charge of intentionality—that Israel is intentionally targeting Palestinian civilians—has resurfaced in the latest conflict between Israel and Hamas, along with the familiar charge of disproportionality—that omnipresent word that is easier typed than understood.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has provided the most fodder for these charges when it recently declared that 77 percent of the Palestinian casualties since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge have been civilians. From this statistic alone, it is a reasonable conclusion to draw that Israel deliberately targets civilians.

Or is it? As an ignored footnote at the bottom of the OCHA report stated, “Data on fatalities and destruction of property is . . . based on preliminary information, and is subject to change based on further verifications.” (more…)

Israel Orders Ground Operation in Gaza

IDF forces to deal ‘significant blow to Hamas’ terror infrastructure’

Israeli Merkava tanks, a D9 bulldozer and armoured personnel carriers (APC) roll near Israel's border with the Gaza Strip on July 17, 2014. (JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon have ordered a ground operation in the Gaza Strip, escalating Operation Protective Edge, which has far the past 10 days been an air campaign, into a full scale military operation.

According to the AP, the IDF said in a statement their objective is to deal a “significant blow to Hamas’ terror infrastructure.” (more…)

Watch Hillary Clinton vs. Jon Stewart on Gaza

The former Secretary of State places blame for conflict squarely on Hamas

(The Daily Show)

This past Monday on The Daily Show, Jon Stewart devoted two-and-a-half minutes to tackling the current conflict in Gaza between Israel and Hamas. The segment was seen as so one-sided in its excoriation of the Jewish state that it went viral among the country’s opponents, and provoked a full rebuttal from David Horovitz, the editor of the Times of Israel. Online columns, however, are no match for viral video—while Horovitz’s column racked up an impressive 10,000 Facebook shares, the clip of Stewart’s segment has been viewed over 700,000 times. But the next night, a guest on Stewart’s own show challenged his assumptions about who is to blame for the current violence: Hillary Clinton.

The widely presumed Democratic presidential frontrunner joined the show for a far-ranging interview about her life and political aspirations. Naturally, the conversation soon turned to the war in Gaza. “Can we at least agree the humanitarian crisis in Gaza is overwhelming,” Stewart asked, “and that the world must do more for the people who are trapped by this conflict?” Clinton agreed with the premise–and then turned it on Hamas. (more…)

U.S. Holocaust Museum Opens Major Archive

U.N. War Crimes Commission now available at the Washington, D.C. museum

(U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum)

For the first time, documentation of the offenses of thousands of World War II criminals is being made public. According to the AP, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C. has acquired a copy of the U.N. War Crimes Commission archive. For the past 70 years, the digital archive has been held under restricted access at the United Nations. Now, the archive will be available for viewing in the museum’s research room.

The collection includes approximately 500,000 digitized microfilm images with more than 10,000 case files on individuals identified as war criminals. The files, written in a range of languages, not only list the crimes of high-powered Nazi officials, they also document thousands of lesser-known crimes from across Europe and Asia. A central registry of war criminals and suspects lists 37,000 names. (more…)

Suspects Indicted in Palestinian Teen’s Murder

Three Israelis charged with killing 16-year-old Muhammad Abu Khdeir

The 29-year-old Israeli prime suspect, who was charged along with two minors with the abduction and murder of the Palestinian teenager Mohammed Abu Khdeir, covers his face as he leaves the courtroom on July 17, 2014 at the Jerusalem district court. (GALI TIBBON/AFP/Getty Images)

Three Israelis were indicted in the murder earlier this month of Palestinian teen Muhammad Abu Khdeir, JTA reports. The three male suspects, who have been identified only as a 29-year-old from the Adam settlement outside Jerusalem and two 16-year-olds from Beit Shemesh and Jerusalem, were charged with the murder and kidnapping of 16-year-old Abu Khdeir and other crimes.

The suspects had already confessed to the grisly murder, in which they abducted and burned Abu Khdeir alive, and described it as an act of revenge for the murders of Israeli teens Gilad Shaar, 16, Naftali Fraenkel, 16 and Eyal Yifrach, 19. According to the indictment, Khdeir was beaten until he was unconscious and then set on fire. (more…)

Ground Operation in Gaza Looking ‘Likely’

Conflict continues to escalate on Day 10 of Israel’s Operation Protective Edge

Israeli soldiers walk towards a Merkava tank, at an army deployment area near Israel's border with the Gaza Strip, on July 17, 2014.(MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images)

As Operation Protective Edge enters its 10th day, rockets continued to be fired at Israel from Gaza, and Israeli air strikes on Gaza continue. The escalating conflict—which has resulted in more than 200 Palestinian and one Israeli casualty—is not likely to dissipate soon: an Israeli military official tells the New York Times that a ground strike is “likely.”

“Every day that passes makes the possibility more evident,” the military official said of a ground campaign. The official, who has been briefing Israeli ministers responsible for strategic decisions and spoke on the condition of anonymity under military protocol, said that his assessment was based on “the signals I get” and that the likelihood of an invasion was “very high.”

After a temporary humanitarian truce Thursday, Hamas immediately fired 10 rockets and Israel launched two airstrikes Thursday. Egypt, meanwhile, has continued its efforts to broker a permanent ceasefire—Israel agreed to a ceasefire Tuesday, but resumed attacks after Hamas rejected the proposal. (more…)

Hundreds of French Immigrants Arrive in Israel

As tensions rise in Paris, young families make aliyah en masse

El Al airplane. (Lukas Rebec /

When nearly 75 percent of French Jews reported they were considering emigration earlier this spring, they weren’t kidding. More than 400 French Jews arrived in Israel today, a group that included mostly young families from Paris and its suburbs, with almost 200 children making the trip.

The climate in France, particularly in Paris, has been intensifying recently, with attacks on Jewish citizens becoming a frequent occurrence—just this week a Jewish teenage girl was pepper sprayed in the face—and anti-Israel protests becoming increasingly violent. (You can read the first of Tablet’s five-part series on toxic hate in France here.) (more…)

Why We Should Embrace #Freepalestine

The celebrity Twitter hashtag fad is an opportunity to make a vital point

(Twin Design /

Ever since the current conflict in Gaza began, America’s celebrities have joined the fray the only way they know how: in 140 characters or less. Particularly notable were tweets by NBA star Dwight Howard and pop singer Rihanna, both of which consisted of a single hashtag: #freepalestine. Both celebrities promptly deleted their tweets so as not to get needlessly embroiled in a publicity flap. It’s a shame: the #freepalestine hashtag is one we should all embrace.

If you’re serious about desiring a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, if you’re acting in good faith and harbor no illogical hatred to one side or another, you realize right away that for both nations to live side by side with dignity, security, and prosperity, Palestine must first be free. (more…)

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