Emanuel Ruled Ineligible To Be Mayor

Unusual decision comes a month before election


First the Bears, and now this! In a surprise and somewhat bizarre decision, a panel of an Illinois state appellate court ruled, 2-1, that former White House chief-of-staff Rahm Emanuel is ineligible to compete in Chicago’s mayoral election on February 22. In most polls, Emanuel is leading by a significant margin over five other candidates.

The two-judge majority, disagreeing with the Chicago Board of Elections, a trial judge, and the third judge on the panel, argued that a municipal code requiring candidates to have a year of residency is to be interpreted more or less literally, and therefore that Emanuel’s return last autumn failed to qualify him. The opposing argument, according to election law expert Rick Hasen, is that residency is a question of intention, and since Emanuel always intended to return to Chicago—and departed in order to run the office of the leader of the free world—he is eligible to run.

Hasen, who spoke briefly on the phone with me, predicted that the Illinois Supreme Court would overturn today’s decision—if it gets to decide it in time. “The dissent, which is very strongly worded, accuses the majority of ignoring precedent and coming up with a new standard just to apply in this case,” Hasen said. “It’s already clear to me from what I’ve read that if this is a close case, most courts are likely to read the statute to give Chicago voters a chance to vote the candidate they want in a competitive election.”

Which, Hasen argued, is as it should be: “Given that there’s ample precedent to reach that conclusion, given that the election board and numerous other bodies reached the conclusion that Emanuel is eligible, then if there’s a way to do that, voters should be given that choice.”

In Tablet Magazine, Rachel Shteir argues that even if Emanuel wins his appeal in timely fashion, “it may not matter”: “If the Illinois Supreme Court rules in his favor, he’s a master of the dark arts who used his money and political pull to get back in the race. In the mean time, he’s been legally certified as a carpetbagger, which gives political cover to all those who—for whatever reasons—have labeled him an outsider.” Shteir has already predicted that Emanuel is likely not to win due to subtle, vestigial anti-Semitic bias in the Windy City.

Court Says Emanuel Is Not Eligible to Run for Chicago Mayor [NYT]
Related: House of Blues [Tablet Magazine]
Out of the Loop [Tablet Magazine]

Lawful Jews

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Today in Tablet Magazine, Josh Lambert provides his weekly round-up of forthcoming Jewish books of note, including several that deal with laws, like one about Talmudic legal stories and another about war crimes trials.

On the Bookshelf

Leave Céline Alone!

Anti-Semites still deserve their honors

Drawing of Louis-Ferdinand Céline.(Wikipedia)

“I don’t want to go to war for Hitler, I’ll admit it, but I don’t want to go against him, for the Jews,” Louis-Ferdinand Céline ranted in 1937. He turned his attention to the French prime minister, Léon Blum: “I’d prefer a dozen Hitlers to one all-powerful Blum. Hitler, at least, I could understand, while with Blum it’s pointless, he’ll always be the worst enemy, absolute hatred, to the death.”

Such vile lines—there were many others—cast a dark shadow over a man who, in a universe devoid of context, would have been celebrated as one of the greatest French writers of the twentieth century, second, perhaps, only to Proust. After the war, he had to flee Paris—where, after the fall of the Vichy regime, he was tried in absentia as a collaborator with the Nazis—and hide out in Denmark until he was pardoned in 1951. Even death put no end to Céline’s shame: Just this week, Jewish community activists successfully petitioned culture minister Frederic Mitterrand to remove Céline’s name from an annual list honoring major figures in French history. (more…)


Today on Tablet


Today in Tablet Magazine, pianist Simone Dinnerstein talks to Sara Ivry on the Vox Tablet podcast about her latest adaptation of the music of Bach.

Back to Bach

Talking With Abraham

Contribute to Liana Finck’s ‘Tell Mitzi’ column

(Liana Finck/Tablet Magazine)

Check out Liana Finck’s third installment of “Tell Mitzi” today. She responds to a funny nightmare!

Now it’s time for you to help her out again. This week, Liana wants to know: If you could have a conversation with any Biblical figure, who would it be and what would you talk about? Leave ‘em in the comments, and maybe she will respond to yours in next week’s “Tell Mitzi.”

Related: Wake Up! [Tablet Magazine]

Packers Versus Steelers

After Bears and Jets losses, the Super Bowl is set

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers yesterday.(Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

The Chicago Bears and the New York Jets—the two teams that probably had the strongest cases for the Jews’ allegiance—both lost yesterday, setting up Super Bowl XLV, in two weeks in Cowboys Stadium, between the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers. The lead of the AP story on the Bears’ 21-14 home loss alludes to the greatest Jewish football player of all time—“Sid Luckman was without a doubt the best quarterback the Bears ever had,” it reads—and reminds us of the suffering of many Chicago-area Jews yesterday (sorry, Jason). And nor can we forget the Tristate Area fans of the Jew York Jets—Ron Kaplan has a nice condolence note—who after yesterday’s defeat have seen their “same old Jets” go 0-4 in post-merger conference championships (their lone Super Bowl victory having come after winning the American Football League). (more…)

A Cuddly Kristallnacht

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Parenting columnist Marjorie Ingall documents her quandary today in Tablet Magazine: A new children’s book that tells the story of Kristallnacht through the eyes of a cat (Benno is his name) has been critically acclaimed, but, to Ingall, is “so distasteful I have trouble forming coherent sentences about it.” But this isn’t just feline talk: Ingall enters a broader debate about when to introduce children to the Holocaust, and how.

Good Kitty, Bad Kitty

Leak Shows Huge, Secret Jerusalem Concessions

Israel rejected big offer; news is bad P.R. for P.A.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat (L) and President Mahmoud Abbas.(Khale Desouki/AFP/Getty Images)

Yesterday Al Jazeera and the Guardian published excerpts from “the Palestine Papers,” an unprecedentedly large trove of leaked confidential notes from Palestinian negotiators. Among other things, we learn that in 2008 the Palestinian Authority was offering Israel nearly all of Jerusalem—much more than the P.A. (which has called for a halt to Jewish building in East Jerusalem) has ever publicly proposed, and, as negotiator Saeb Erekat memorably calls it, “the biggest Yerushalayim in Jewish history.”

Resolution of the “right of return” issue for a merely token price was also on the table.

It seems safe to say the leak did not come in an official capacity from the P.A., since it will hurt the credibility of the West Bank’s governing authority: As the New York Times reports, the P.A. has (un-credibly) called the documents “a pack of lies,” while Hamas, the P.A.’s chief rival for allegiance in the territories, said the documents showed the P.A. was “attempting to liquidate the Palestinian cause.” And indeed, if your definition of the Palestinian cause includes at least some form of sovereignty over much of East Jerusalem (and it should), then it is actually difficult to dispute Hamas’s allegation. (more…)

Daybreak: Israeli Probe Clears IDF in Flotilla

Plus Iran talks fizzle, an end to U.S. engagement, and more in the news

The head of the probe, Yaakov Turkel.(Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images)

• The Israeli commission concluded that the navy acted legally when it halted the Gaza-bound flotilla in international waters last May. [WP]

• Two-day international talks over Iran’s nuclear program were essentially over before they began, with the Islamic Republic insisting on the right to enrich uranium from the outset. [LAT]

• Introducting “The Palestine Papers”: Secret documents from Palestinian negotiators that show them offering Israel a great deal. Much more at 10 am. [NYT]

• The new composition of President Obama’s top advisers means the administration is likely to no longer engage the Mideast peace process as much as it has, in part because it will no longer trust Prime Minister Netanyahu as a good-faith peace-maker. [Politico]

• As negotiations over Lebanon’s next government begin, Hezbollah’s leader pledged his group, which has the power to craft a parliamentary majority, would follow state rules and would seek a national unity cabinet. [NYT]

• Egypt’s interior minister pinned the New Year’s day church bombing that killed 21 Coptic Christians on a Gaza-based group linked to Al Qaeda. [WSJ]

Sundown: Mourning the Wife of a Dairy Farmer

Plus an uprising in Jordan, an argument in D.C., and more

President Shimon Peres at his wife’s funeral today.(Oded Balilty/AFP/Getty Images)

• Sonia Peres, the wife of Israeli President Shimon, had her funeral today. Oh, and here, pretty much, is Zionism explained: “When asked once why she chose to stay away from the public eye, Peres said: ‘I married a dairy farmer.’” [Haaretz]

• Is Tunisia’s Jasmine Revolution about to spread to Jordan? [JPost]

• BREAKING: Some people argued over what it means to be pro-Israel. [Ben Smith]

• Hussein Agha and Robert Malley argue that the status quo is going to remain, well, the status quo. [NY Books]

• Sacha Baron Cohen will be playing Saddam Hussein in a forthcoming movie. Sure, why not? [Animal NY]

• Is Urban Outfitters drawing fashion inspiration from the ultra-Orthodox? [Jewcy]

“Some of you so called boycotters are just assholes,” declared Macy Gray, announcing she and her band would indeed play an upcoming gig in Tel Aviv. Here is that one Macy Gray song I know!

Various Goldbergs

Your Vox Tablet preview

(Eric Molinsky)

In 2007, pianist Simone Dinnerstein burst onto the classical music scene with her critically acclaimed interpretation of Bach’s “Goldberg Variations.” Now she’s returned to Bach, on her just-released Bach: A Strange Beauty.

On Monday’s Vox Tablet, she talks to host Sara Ivry about how she’s arrived at her very distinctive take on this music, and also about the challenges of playing the music her way when, at the same time, there’s this whole orchestra trying to follow along … .

Upstate Jew

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Today in Tablet Magazine, Abigail Pogrebin publishes her diary of the three days of Limmud NY, the Jewish learning festival and conference in the Catskills.


Lebanese Power Broker Supports Hezbollah

Druze leader Jumblatt sides with ‘the resistance’ against PM

Walid Jumblatt announces his decision today.(Anwar Amro/AFP/Getty Images)

Well it’s happened: Walid Jumblatt, the de facto leader of the Druze population of Lebanon and the country’s kingmaker, has sided with Hezbollah, the Shiite Iran proxy, which last week disbanded the coalition government by yanking all its ministers in anticipation of U.N. indictments for the 2005 assassination of the former Lebanese prime minister. “The party will stand firm in support of Syria and the resistance,” he said. The result will be that Prime Minister Saad Hariri and his America-backed March 14 coalition likely will not be the next group in-charge of Lebanon.

It’s worth remembering that it was not six years ago that Jumblatt’s support lay with Hariri and March 14 and against Hezbollah; and it’s also worth remembering that today’s announcement was predictable (indeed, predicted), as Hariri Jumblatt, as columnist Lee Smith reported last year, threw his support to Hezbollah some time ago. Why? One word: Iran. Your weekend reading assignment is this 2009 New Republic dispatch, in which contributing editor David Samuels argued, “In the new Middle East, Tehran—armed with the strategic insulation that nuclear weapons confer—will be able to destabilize any government it doesn’t like without fear of military reprisal. As nearby regimes weigh the pros and cons of life inside the nuclear cage with the Iranian tiger, Lebanon offers a preview of what the future might be like.” That, in a nutshell, is what has changed between 2005, when Jumblatt could feel comfortable on the pro-America side of the fence, and today, when he can’t.

In Blow to Hariri, Jumblatt Pledges Support for Hezbollah [JPost]
Related: The Next Lebanon War [Tablet Magazine]
The Year of the Elephant [TNR]
Earlier: U.N. Files Sealed Indictment in Lebanese Killing
Hezbollah Departs Lebanese Government

Kill the Pig!

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Today in Tablet Magazine, columnist Etgar Keret goes deep into his Angry Birds addiction.

Bird’s Eye

The Bronx Is Up

Comment of the week

(Ravi Joshi/Tablet Magazine)

Winner gets a free Nextbook Press book appropriate to his or her comment (provided he or she emails me at with his or her mailing address).

This week’s winner is “Delores Sloan,” who wrote, in response to contributing editor Rachel Shukert’s appreciation of Bess Myerson, the Jewish 1945 Miss America,

Bess Meyerson lived in the “The Amalgamated,” which is how we in the Bronx referred to the first cooperative housing development for workers, about three miles from where I lived, built by the Amalgamated Clothing Workers Union for their members. Most of the children in my elementary school lived in The Amalgamated. They were the children of Eastern European Jewish immigrants. They were good students and strong believers, with me (the only child in our class with American-born parents), of the American dream. When Bess won Miss America, I was a teenager, bemoaning how my wild, curly brown hair (in an era without gels and mousses) and curvy body was so unlike the blonde, long-legged glamourous movie stars and fashion models. Her victory (with dark hair like mine!), certainly helped me boost my self image and the pride in our neighborhood reminded me of the joy, years before, when Joe Louis beat Max Schmeling. You go, Bess!

“Delores Sloan” will receive a copy of Douglas Century’s biography of Barney Ross, who like Schmeling was a great boxer but who unlike Schmeling actually was Jewish (Schmeling wore a Star of David and was a Righteous Gentile, but he also flew in the Luftwaffe).

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