Sundown: Standoff at Joseph’s Tomb

Plus notes on Barenboim’s concert, and more

Daniel Barenboim (center) and other performers at the Gaza concert.(Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images)

• Fifty-five Bratslav Hasidim and right-wing activists boarded themselves up in Joseph’s Tomb, in the West Bank. The stunt ended, predictably, with 55 arrests. [Haaretz]

• The musical performance conducted by Daniel Barenboim earlier this week in Gaza gets nearly 1400 words in the Times. Interesting note: Barenboim and the performers entered via the Rafah crossing, which is to say, Egypt. [NYT]

• Israeli citizens are about to get new identity cards, complete with biometric chips and creepy, gratuitous Holocaust symbolism. [972]

• The City University of New York nixed an honorary degree that John Jay College planned to grant playwright Tony Kushner, because of his alleged endorsement of the BDS movement. [NY Jewish Week]

• Mayor Bloomberg declares May “Birthright Israel Month” in New York. Funny, I’m still not on a trip. [JTA]

• There have been Internet-inaccessible smartphones for the observant before, but the first one in Yiddish just dropped. [Ynet]

From 1977, Jerry Seinfeld’s first-ever television appearance. Those collars! That accent!! Those pants!!!

Shalit’s Parents React to Deal with Demand

One more reason why a joint Fatah-Hamas government is … complicated

A Shalit protest tent in Jerusalem.(Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images)

Though this is probably not at the top of the list of “issues Fatah-Hamas reconciliation complicates,” the fact is that, once Hamas and Fatah form a joint government, should Israel continue to cooperate with it (as it basically must), then it will be cooperating with the people holding Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit hostage. (To make matters even more confusing, as Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff reported today in Tablet Magazine, Hamas’s political leadership are not really the folks holding Shalit, and in fact don’t even know where he is—it is a very small circle of Hamas’s military wing that controls the operation.)

Anyway, Shalit’s parents, Noam and Aviva, pledged today to petition Israel’s High Court to force the Israeli government to withhold Palestinian Authority tax revenues—currently the most concrete point of contention between Israel and the P.A. over the reconciliation deal—until Shalit is released. Get used to many, many more spats like this one after the unity pact is implemented, beginning next week.

Shalits to Turn to Court if Government Does Not Pressure P.A. [JPost]
Related: News of a Kidnapping [Tablet Magazine]
Earlier: Fatah Chooses Hamas

Just Desserts

Today on Tablet


Today in Tablet Magazine, Dan Klein heads to Gottliebs, a Glatt kosher deli in South Williamsburg, where the locals have some interesting, though generally positive reactions to the Bin Laden news. “He’s a Muslim and he’s got the guts to do it,” says one luncher. “It proves he’s an American president.”

Chewing Over Bin Laden

Advertisement for Ourselves

Who’s in your driver’s seat?


‘Support Your Own Brother’ [Kensington Prospect]

Food Frozen in Time, and Actually Frozen

Today on Tablet


Today in Tablet Magazine, Jennifer Bleyer profiles Einav Gefen, the Israeli chef who creates frozen foods for the whole world.

World Feeder

These Were The Weeks That Were

JTA debuts the Jewish News Archive

Crazy dateline.(Alana Newhouse)

The JTA’s Jewish News Archive dropped today, and it is cool! With a few holes, it contains, online, the Jewish wire service’s dispatches since 1917. And already it is doing a good job of not just providing these resources but presenting them in interesting ways. For example: Here, a children’s treasury of past birth certificate-related controversies in the Jewish community.

Also, you have basically have to read this article, from 1981, about “Two Finicky Visitors in Israel”: “Fritz, a 650-pound male dolphin, and Tivie, a female whose weight was not disclosed.” Nor her age, presumably.

Congrats to JTA, and do peruse the archive over lunch.

Jewish News Archive [JTA]

Diplomats’ Report: Deal Could Prove Useful

Foreign ministry suggests Israel work jiu-jitsu on reconciliation

P.A. President Abbas (L) and Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal (R) in Cairo today.(PPM via Getty Images)

I’ll take fuller stock tomorrow of today’s consummation of the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation deal, once the dust has settled slightly. For now, though, it is worth considering the contents of a report prepared by career diplomats (which is to say, not Yisrael Beiteinu political appointees) in Israel’s foreign ministry. Haaretz reports this paper is crystal-clear about the “security threat” posed by reconciliation—bringing at it does the potential for a renewed Hamas presence in the West Bank and for Fatah to radicalize to match its new ally—but also the potential “strategic opportunity to create genuine change in the Palestinian context” in “the long-term interests for Israel.”

Haaretz leads with the contradiction between the report and Prime Minister Netanyahu’s public statements, which have been adamant that Fatah, in choosing to make peace with Hamas, has chosen not to make peace with Israel. But actually, the two are not necessarily inconsistent. The report seems to acknowledge that this is what Fatah has done. (more…)

‘Our Collective Israeli Child’

Today on Tablet


As we approach the five-year mark of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit’s abduction by Hamas, Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff tell you today in Tablet Magazine everything you need to know about his capture, the futile efforts to get him back, and the colossal place he occupies in Israel’s psyche. “Israel has handled the issue ‘worse than a used cars salesman,’” an Egyptian official tells them, and given the hundreds and hundreds of prisoners, several of them believed to be exceptionally dangerous terrorists, that Israel would need to release in order to secure this one living soldier, it is difficult to dispute that. What is far more difficult to agree on—so difficult that even these two authors don’t—is whether the deal would be worth it.

News of a Kidnapping

There Goes Rhymin’ Simon, in Israel

A suggested setlist

Paul Simon (L) and his longtime partner Tzipi Livni (R).(Ye Olde Tablet Magazine Photoshoppe)

Paul Simon will likely play Ramat Gan Stadium outside Tel Aviv this summer. As with Bob Dylan, he gets an Israel-themed setlist.

Homeward Bound”: For Israel.

“The Sound of Silence”: For the Israeli left.

“50 Ways to Leave Your Lover”: For the myriad failures of the peace process.

“Loves Me Like a Rock”: That there may one day be peace at the Temple Mount.

“Mrs. Robinson”: For Mary Robinson, Israel’s favorite U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights.

“Old Friends”: For Fatah and Hamas, apparently.

“I Am A Rock”: For Israel’s strength and the fact that it is an island of democracy in a sea of dictatorships (or, if you prefer, for Israel’s immobility and international isolation).

“One Man’s Ceiling Is Another’ Man’s Floor”: For Ehud Barak (get it, cause he’s short?).

“Keep the Customer Satisfied”: For ex-prime minister Ehud Olmert, who at least always did this in his real estate schemes.


“Still Crazy After All These Years”: For Bibi.

“Me and Julio Down by the School Yard”: For Juliano Mer-Khamis (lyrics adjusted accordingly).

“Graceland”: For the Messiah.

Paul Simon May Perform in Israel [Ynet]
Earlier: Dylan Plays Israel: A Suggested Setlist

Daybreak: Fatah and Hamas Strike Deal

Plus ‘Nakba Law’ challenged, and more in the news

Palestinians in Ramallah celebrate the deal.(Abbas Momani/AFP/Getty Images)

• In a ceremony at Cairo’s intelligence offices, Fatah and Hamas proclaimed their reconciliation deal. [AP/WP]

• Israel’s foreign ministry leaked that, unlike Prime Minister Netanyahu, it sees the deal as potential opportunity to help effectuate long-term change on the Palestinian side. [Haaretz]

• An Arab legal center has asked the High Court to overturn the infamous “Nakba Law,” which could bar state funding for numerous pro-Palestinian groups. [Haaretz]

• The world population by 2100 could hit 10.1 billion, the United Nations estimated. Most of these people would not be Jews. [NYT]

• Influential sociologist Harold Garfinkel died at 93. [NYT]

• Could Leo and Bar be headed for Splitsville? [Page Six]

Sundown: Le Palestine

Plus Madonna’s out of Africa, and more

Madonna in March.(Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images)

• President Sarkozy suggested that France would consider recognizing a Palestinian state come September if no peace process progress is made. [Reuters/Haaretz]

• A State Department spokesperson called “outrageous” the comments of Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas’s leader in Gaza, condemning the assassination of Osama Bin Laden. [Haaretz]

• Madonna, Malawi, and Kabbalah. [NYMag]

• Former Israeli president and convicted rapist Moshe Katsav will not have to do jail time pending his appeal. [AP/WP]

• This is way old, but I learned today that President Obama has a Jewish half-brother. [WP]

• The Israeli conductor Daniel Barenboim participated in a rare performance in Gaza as a show of solidarity. [AP/Haaretz]

Not enough people remember this awesome post-9/11 rant in Spike Lee’s The 25th Hour (caution: Lots of cursing, and equal-opportunity use of racial stereotypes in the Spike Lee manner).

The Reform Kerfuffle

How much opposition exists to the movement’s future leader?


Sue Fishkoff reports in detail on the mini-rift in the Reform movement following the Union for Reform Judaism’s naming of Rabbi Richard Jacobs to succeed Rabbi Eric Yoffie as head of the umbrella organization of Judaism’s largest American denomination. It appears to be largely smoke sans fire: The lead dissident, Washington, D.C.-based Carol Greenwald, chairs a group that is dedicated to “Monitoring the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Failure to Expose Arab Anti-Semitism and to Chronicle its Dangers to World Jewry;” making Jacobs, a member of J Street’s rabbinic cabinet, the head of Reform Judaism may drive her and some others from the movement, but it seems far-fetched to see his appointment as an affront to all “mainstream Zionists.” (And, for what it’s worth, Abe Foxman agrees, calling attacks on Jacobs “harmful to the spirit of unity and common cause that unites the Jewish people.”)

Reform Defends Richard Jacobs as Critics Attack His Israel Position [JTA]
Earlier: Reform Movement Picks New Head

Two Jews, Three Shuls

Today on Tablet


Today in Tablet Magazine, books critic Adam Kirsch explores the predictably funny history of the synagogue in American life.

House Divided

The Eerie Shape of Bin Laden’s Compound

This has to be a coincidence … right?

A CIA aerial view of the compound.(Wikipedia)

Here is an Osama Bin Laden-related theory much more fun (and, technically, much more plausible) than the ones floating about how he’s not actually dead. The Jewish French Website JSSNews took a look at Bin Laden’s custom-built compound in Abbotabad, Pakistan, and noted not only a startling resemblance in shape to historical Palestine—that is, Israel and the Palestinian territories—but that, if you do take the shape of the acre-sized compound to be such a map, the house itself, where bin Laden lived on the third floor for years, is at Jerusalem. The difference being that, here, all of the land has a wall around it. Zing!

Anyway, this probably has about as much meaning as the Hitler goldfish. But have fun with it.

From JSSNews.

Bin Laden—The Conspiracy? [Ynet]

Starring You as Yourself

Today on Tablet


Today in Tablet Magazine, take parenting columnist Marjorie Ingall’s special personality quiz: Choose which is your favorite Jewish children’s book, and learn things about yourself you may not have even known.

Taste Test

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