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All the Happy Couples

The ‘N.J. Jewish Standard’ strikes gay partners from its pages

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Yesterday, the New Jersey Jewish Standard (“the voice of northern Jewish New Jersey” since 1931, according to its Website) published an editorial apologizing for running a same-sex couple’s engagement announcement the previous Friday (right above an ad for a mohel, it so happens). The paper’s editor, Rebecca Boroson, reported that the paper had received an unexpected number of negative comments, and, after talking with a group of unnamed “traditional/Orthodox” rabbis, she came to understand that the announcement had caused “pain and consternation.” For this she was sorry. And readers could rest assured that the New Jersey Jewish Standard will never run such an announcement again.

The statement rocketed around Facebook and the blogosphere. Commenters on the paper’s site overwhelmingly expressed dismay. Boroson’s decision was called “disappointing” and “abhorrent.” More than one person noted the sad irony of the paper apologizing for offending homophobic readers in the wake of the recent rash of suicides by gay teenagers across the country, including, most prominently, at Rutgers—the state university of New Jersey.

The decision seems at odds with the paper’s official mission statement: “The Jewish Standard is not affiliated with any program, organization, movement, or point of view, but is dedicated to giving expression to all phases of Jewish life.” By refusing to run paid announcements from fellow Jews, and by kowtowing to but one segment of the community, the paper has chosen to “affiliate” with one “point of view,” doing the precise opposite of “giving expression to all phases of Jewish life.” (more…)

Spy vs. Shpy

Al Jaffee, of ‘Mad’, has a side-job

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From the strip.(City Room)

For more than a quarter century, right under our noses, the legendary Al Jaffee—who has drawn cartoons for Mad since 1955, most notably inventing the Fold-In (yup, he invented it and draws it)—has been producing a regular comic for a Chabad-connected bimonthly in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. In every issue since 1984, readers of The Moshiach Times have enjoyed the tales of Shpy, a bearded agent, as he battles the evil Yetzer Hora (“Evil Inclination”).

With a closet full of disguises and more gadgets than 007, the Shpy volunteers his services when innocent people or ancient traditions are imperiled. He escapes from a giant Mixmaster when investigating a case of stolen hamantaschen, and thwarts a mysterious bee infestation that nearly spoils the fall holiday of Sukkot. In one installment, he invents a repellent to keep the sinister Yetzer Hora at bay, complete with a catchy slogan: “Let us Shpray.”

Jaffee, 89, who was born to Lithuanian Jews in Savannah, Georgia, is the subject of a new biography, Al Jaffee’s Mad Life. You can read the prologue at Heeb.

Best Known for Mad, Also Read By Chabad Youngsters [City Room]
Related: Heeb Exclusive: Al Jaffee’s Mad Life
MAD Man [Tablet Magazine]

Semitic Representation

For picky people who need lawyers

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(David Shulman/Sun-Sentinel)

A new organization called the Jewish American Bar Association (based—where else?—in Boca Raton, Florida) is causing a stir for its forthright marketing. “It implies a Jewish attorney is better than a non-Jewish attorney, and that can’t help the legal community at large,” says a local B’nai B’rith activist. Responds the social worker who started the organization: “If an all-women’s medical group posted an ad ‘Prefer a woman gynecologist?’ would that be offensive?” Which begs the question: If somebody made an analogy that implied that lawyers’ subject matter is inherently Jewish, would that be offensive?

By the way, the pop cultural moment that this most immediately provokes should provide a relief to Boomer readers who tire of my less out-of-date references. Watch the whole thing: I’m going more for what happens in the second half of the clip (starting around 5:09).

‘Want a Jewish Lawyer?’ Advertisement Ruffles S. Florida Attorneys’ Feathers [Sun-Sentinel]

Today on Tablet

All about Stuxnet, and more

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Today in Tablet Magazine, we continue our Web Wars! week with Michael Tanji’s extremely helpful explanation of what exactly Stuxnet, the computer worm thought to be slowing Iran’s nuclear development, is and what makes it special, and Yossi Melman’s extremely educated guess as to who is behind it. Books critic Adam Kirsch reviews Howard Jacobson’s Man Booker shortlisted The Finkler Question, which satirizes Jewish shame and non-Jewish philo-Semitism alike. Which, incidentally, is also what The Scroll strives to do.

Iran: Stuxnet Isn’t Harming Nuclear Program

Plus how Stuxnet is harming Iran’s nuclear program

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The Iranian nuclear reactor at Bushehr.(Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images)

Event A: Stuxnet, an unprecedented computer worm that targets Siemens-made systems thought to be used at Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons facilities, appears and apparently wreaks havoc on said nuclear facilities.

Event B: Iran delays launch of a long-planned nuclear power plant at Bushehr.

Are Events A and B connected? Of course not! So says Iran’s atomic energy chief. Iran has arrested various “spies” associated with Stuxnet. Everything is now under control! In fact, the atomic energy chief added, the Islamic Republic is offering a special rate on the sale of a bridge in Brooklyn … .

Neither Yossi Melman nor Michael Tanji, who both write about Stuxnet for Tablet Magazine today, can state that Israel is behind Stuxnet. (If you believe your Biblical conspiracy theories, it was Israel; if you believe former U.S. weapons inspector David Kay, it was probably the Russians or the Chinese. Melman, who is as sourced-up as they come, hypothesizes that Israel may have worked with Siemens to get this done.) But Tanji anticipates this Iranian denial: “Stuxnet,” he writes, “will naturally not be the cause of any delays, and the resumption of work will be quickly and loudly promoted.”

Mainly, though, Tanji explains what the damn thing is. And what makes it new: “It is much more in-line with traditional military or intelligence thinking than most malicious activity noted online to date,” he argues. “Stuxnet does nothing but seek out legitimate targets, in the context of total war. It is an indicator that, at a minimum, confirms what observers of the information warfare field have suspected for some time: When the enemy comes, he’ll turn out the lights first.”

Meanwhile, a new poll showed quite low U.S. support for war with Iran under a variety of circumstances, further confirming that covert sabotage remains the ideal avenue for derailing Iran’s nuclear weapons project. Not that any sabotage is succeeding or anything.

Iran Says Computer Virus Not To Blame for Delay in Launching Nuclear Power Plant [LAT]
Iran Arrests Stuxnet ‘Spies’ [JTA]
In a Computer Worm, a Possible Biblical Clue [NYT]
Related: Coded [Tablet Magazine]
Modern Warfare, Too [Tablet Magazine]
As The Worm Turns [National Interest]

Daybreak: Mosque Aflame

Plus Bibi moves toward extending freeze, and more in the news

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The mosque yesterday.(Musa Al-Shaer/AFP/Getty Images)

• A village mosque near the West Bank city of Hebron was torched yesterday by what are suspected to be radical Israeli settlers. Defense Minister Barak has labeled whoever the perpetrators were “terrorists.” [NYT]

• Today, Prime Minister Netanyahu will try to convince his cabinet to back an extra 60-day construction freeze. [Haaretz]

• But the move is placing Netanyahu’s coalition in jeopardy. [JPost]

• Oktoberfest in the West Bank. [LAT]

• Yesterday, the first Monday of October, everyone was checking out the new kid on the Court. [NYT]

• Philip Roth’s annual novel comes out today, to this lukewarm review. [NYT]

Tablet Magazine’s third team, the New England Patriots, dominated the Miami Dolphins in the second half last night with touchdowns on offense, defense, and special teams, winning 41-14.

Sundown: Reporters With Munchies

Plus the NYT’s Nazi obfuscation, and more

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• The D.C. correspondent for Israel’s largest-circulation daily, Yediot Ahronot, was arrested, with her husband a (CBS News journalist), after cops found marijuana plants in their backyard. Which is apparently illegal? [AP/WP/Vos Iz Neias?]

• All about new Jewish shadow British Prime Minister Ed Miliband. Plus: What he thinks of the Mideast! [JPost]

• Jeet Heer wonders why the New York Times characterizes Joseph Sobran as someone who had to defend himself from charges of anti-Semitism when the late journalist was actually basically a Nazi. [Sans Everything]

• Christopher Hitchens thinks Rick Sanchez should be reinstated, but also notes that it is okay to judge comments by “the tone of voice in which these facts are stated.” [Slate]

• Eli Valley’s latest comic is about Helen Thomas, which means it’s also sort of about Rick Sanchez. [Forward]

• Italian President Silvio Berlusconi told a joke about a Jew who charges another Jew to be hidden during the Holocaust, the punch-line being, “the question now is whether we should tell him Hitler is dead and the war is over.” I wonder what Italian media outlets will make of this joke, given that Berlusconi owns them all. [Haaretz]

It is not at all clear whether Chicago’s politically influential Jewish community is onboard the Rahm Emanuel mayoral bandwagon just yet. Anyway, here is the former White House chief-of-staff announcing his candidacy. “My father came to Chicago as an immigrant from Israel … ”:

Winning Ugly

How our teams fared yesterday

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McNabb after throwing his touchdown pass yesterday to tight end Chris Cooley.(Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Before we get to the games, holy crap guys Taylor Mays scored an amazing touchdown yesterday! Specifically, the San Francisco 49ers’ rookie Jewish safety—bar mitvah’d and everything—made an amazing play against the Atlanta Falcons, catching a tipped punt at the edge of the end zone for six. (Watch it.) Of course, the Niners are not one of the teams Tablet Magazine is following, and thank God: Despite playing in football’s worst division, the team is 0-4 and nosediving.

Now onto our games. The New England Patriots play at the Miami Dolphins tonight—I’ll preview the game below, and try to remember to mention who won in Daybreak tomorrow. As for our other two teams? They both won, and they both won ugly. (more…)

‘We Are At War’

Your latest Emails of Zion

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(Vanessa Davis)

The Emails of Zion is a collection of messages from Jewish parents, uncles, aunts, grandparents, and others who are eager—often way too eager—to inform their children about issues of pressing concern to the Jewish community. Some of these emails may sound crazy, paranoid, ethnocentric, and/or racist, while others are disturbingly sane.

Forward emails from your elders to elders@tabletmag.com.

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: _______
Date: September 22, 2010 3:59:02 PM EDT
Subject: A MUST READ

Written and delivered as a sermon by Atlanta Rabbi Schlomo Lewis, this is the most cogent look at the world’s plight, and that of the Jews, that I have ever had the privilege of reading. Do yourself and your family a great service by taking a quiet ten minutes to read it thoughtfully.

________________________________________
EHR KUMT
First Day of Rosh Hashanah 2010

Many years ago a Chasid used to travel from shtetl to shtetl selling holy books. On one occasion he came to a wealthy land owner and asked if he would like to purchase a book of Torah teachings. The banker agreed and not only purchased the book, but paid for it with a hundred ruble note. He then began to chat with the Chassid and offered him a cigar, taking one also for himself. The Chassid noticed that the banker proceeded to rip a page from the holy book he had just bought and holding it to the open flame on the stove, used the page to light his cigar. The Chassid said not a word but simply drew out from his pocket the 100 ruble note he had just received from the banker, held it over the stove as well and used it to light his cigar. (more…)

For Once, the French Don’t Surrender

Tel Aviv loses second Champions League match

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Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images(Tel Aviv goalie Vincent Enyeama makes a save.)

On the beaches of Tel Aviv nowadays, you are as likely to catch fragments of a conversation in French as in Hebrew. Restaurants along the Mediterranean softly play Chevalier. Shopkeepers, never an overtly polite species, have mastered merci. With waves and waves of French Jews crashing on Tel Aviv’s shores and flooding the town with much coveted foreign currency, the first Hebrew metropolis has become an extension of the Francophone empire.

The same, alas, is true for soccer. Playing Hapoel in Tel Aviv in the second round of the European Champions League last week, France’s Lyon treated the locals much as the French Jews on the beaches do: With a touch of bemusement, a note of compassion, and a benevolent disregard. (more…)

Unkosher Scuba

This week on ‘America’s Next Top Model’

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Esther last night.(The CW)

The latest episode is a letdown after the previous week‘s makeovers. Sure, the producers try to rev up the drama by taking the girls to Knott’s Berry Farm and have them ride the Silver Bullet roller coaster and snap their tacky souvenir photos at the bottom. But only one girl cries from fright, and even she manages to get on the ride; and merely a handful of the modeltestants, including Esther, are able to pose at the flash; and even fewer still manage to look good. Ann, winner of the past two photo challenges, looks like Gollum with the centripetal forces tugging at her features.

Kacey, who had flirted heavily with her male model last week, decides to throw a barbecue, inviting hers and the rest of the masculine mannequins to join. Instead of this being an orgy of beautiful people, though, it was more akin to a middle school dance, as though an invisible mechitza had been erected, partitioning the room between guys and gals, which probably suits Esther just fine (especially if her “sexy Jesus” model from last week, who made her feel uncomfortable and un-Jewish, was there, which I couldn’t tell from the angles). If this is how junior high dances went, then this former yeshiva girl feels better about having missed out. The failed party and a sink full of dishes are the last straws for neat freak Lexie, who confronts Kacey in front of the entire gang. “I have consistently not liked you since casting week,” she tells her. Lexie adds that Kacey needs “to be genuine.” (Of course, their hair is fake—either in color or extensions—their orthodontia is manipulated, and the photos are retouched.)

Kacey decides to poll the group individually to see if the sentiment is unanimous, which it practically is. But one of the few girls who doesn’t weigh in is Esther. I am pleased that she remains above the fray, even if, as a result, she doesn’t get a lot of screentime. Perhaps she has learned the lessons of lashon hora well while at Maimonides in Boston: You don’t talk smack about fellow reality show contestants. (more…)

The Internet Had a Bris

‘Web Wars!’: an introduction

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(Mark Alan Stamaty)

I didn’t write my post last Wednesday on The Social Network, the new movie about Facebook’s origins (which won the weekend box office), for this week’s Web Wars! series, but my take on the movie’s declaration that one of the world’s most important Websites was created by Jews self-conscious of (and perhaps trying to break free from) their Jewishness would have served as a nice preview nonetheless.

This week, writers Liel Leibovitz (today, on Web 2.0), Phil Taylor (on information warfare generally), Amy Zalman (on Israeli information warfare specifically), Mideast columnist Lee Smith (on Hezbollah’s messaging), Michael Tanji (on the Stuxnet malware), and Yossi Melman (it’s a surprise!) will explore the cultural and political implications of Jewish and Israeli use of the Internet. If you want, bookmark this page, where all the Web Wars! articles will be linked to once they are published.

As I say, the week wasn’t timed in conjunction with the Facebook movie, and it also wasn’t timed in conjunction with the revelation that Stuxnet, the computer worm that apparently targets Iran’s nuclear program, contains a line of code with the word “Myrtus”—a subtle reference to Esther, that famed Jewish subverter of Persian power. These coincidences, rather, serve to buttress the resonance of our theme.

Web Wars! [Tablet Magazine]
Web Jew.0 [Tablet Magazine]
In a Computer Worm, a Possible Biblical Clue [NYT]
Earlier: The World’s Most Powerful Jew

Today on Tablet

Eeyore on the podcast, and more

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Today in Tablet Magazine, Liel Leibovitz kicks off our special Web Wars! week with a look at how the user-empowering features of Web 2.0 makes it a fundamentally Jewish enterprise. Contributing editor David Rakoff is the guest on this week’s Vox Tablet podcast; he discusses the wisdom of pessimism. Parenting columnist Marjorie Ingall reminisces over The Adventures of K’Ton Ton, essentially the Jewish Tom Thumb. Josh Lambert’s weekly round-up of forthcoming books of interest focuses on Jews living in Muslim countries. The Scrollwill not be leaving you early this week.

Sanchez Says Jews Run Media, Is Fired

CNN host is Elders’ latest victim

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Rick Sanchez.(CNN)

I’m late to the Rich Sanchez story, because Rick Sanchez chose a day when this more explicitly Jewish-run sector of the media was observing Simchat Torah to say a stupid thing and get canned. The CNN host former CNN host told a satellite radio host late Thursday afternoon that “everybody that runs CNN is a lot like [Jon] Stewart;” this shortly after his interlocutor had noted that Stewart was a Jew and therefore, like Sanchez (who is Cuban-American), a minority, to which Sanchez had responded, “Yeah. Yeah. Very powerless people.” On Friday, CNN announced that Sanchez was “no longer with the company.”

It’s worth noting that Sanchez’s main patron at CNN, who gave him more airtime even as others called for him to get less, was the also-recently-fired Jonathan Klein—who is himself, shall we say, “a lot like Stewart.” Stewart will reportedly address the whole thing tonight: 11 pm E.S.T. on Comedy Central.

Conan O’Brien may have had the best take on the affair: “CNN’s Rick Sanchez says the Jews run CNN,” he Tweeted. “Ah, so that’s who we blame for Rick Sanchez.”

CNN Fires Rick Sanchez for Remarks in Interview [NYT]

Daybreak: Talks in Jeopardy

Plus R.I.P. Maury Allen, and more in the news

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President Abbas Saturday.(Abbas Momani/AFP/Getty Images)

• President Abbas tentatively ruled out future talks unless Prime Minister Netanyahu were to again freeze West Bank construction. [WP]

But a compromise may still be in the offing. [WSJ]

• Two IDF soldiers were convicted by an Israeli military court of using a Palestinian boy as a human shield during the 2009 Gaza conflict. [NYT]

• Syrian President Bashar Assad’s visit to Iran yesterday was almost as much indicative of complicating ties as a result of more intensive U.S. engagement as it was of a continued strong bond. [LAT]

• President Obama’s chief-of-staff, Rahm Emanuel, left the White House; he will run to be mayor of his hometown, Chicago. [JPost]

• Legendary Brooklyn-born, New York-based sportswriter Maury Allen died at 78. [NYT]

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