In Israel, gentrification is about religion, not class

(Len Small/Tablet Magazine)

Israelispeak is the way Israelis and the Israeli media use Hebrew. Behind the literal meaning, there’s an additional web of suggestion, doublespeak, and cultural innuendo that too often gets lost in translation. Every Friday, we reveal what is really being said. To view all the entries in this series, click here.

“What’s more dangerous for Israel,” asks an op-ed in Maariv. “Islamization or Haredization?”

“Haredization,” or hithardut in Hebrew, shares the same root as “Haredi,” the religious ideology that is colloquially known in the United States as “black hat” or “yeshivish.” Often translated as “ultra-Orthodox,” “Haredi” literally means “one who fears,” in the sense of fearing God.

But while the word “Haredization” makes sense in English, too (at least to those who have heard of haredim), its meaning in English tends to be limited to the rightward tendencies of Orthodox Judaism. In Hebrew, “hithardut” has broader connotations, partly because of the extent to which religious and civil society—synagogue and state—are intertwined. (more…)

Daybreak: Iran Reported Years Away from Bomb

Plus Gaza strikes, Debbie Friedman, and more in the news

The nuclear facility in Bushehr.(IIPA via Getty Images)

• Meir Dagan, the well-respected outgoing Mossad chief, said that due to “malfunctions” Iran will not possess nuclear weapons before 2015. [Haaretz]

• Tensions in Gaza continue, with the Israeli Air Force hitting a camp in the north and a smuggling tunnel in the south. [JPost]

• The IDF officially regretted killing a Palestinian man during a West Bank raid to arrest several Hamas men. [Haaretz]

• Sunken treasure! A Pissarro painting! The Nazis! You’ve gotta love WikiLeaks. [NYT]

• The Israeli government is more than doubling its funding of Birthright, hoping to bring 50,000 people a year to the Holy Land for free to learn about their heritage and hook up with that cute but like you know also really cool girl from Brandeis. [JPost/Forward]

• Singer-songwriter Debbie Friedman, in her late fifties, was hospitalized in California. She is on a respirator. [JTA/Jewish Journal]

Sundown: Hillary’s Turn

Plus hot Jewish Ivy League frat-boys, and more

Dear God.(New Voices)

• Citing the administration’s record of “dysfunction” on the Mideast peace process, experienced negotiator Aaron David Miller calls for Secretary of State Clinton to take a more active, involved role. [Foreign Policy]

• You can get a calendar featuring the hunks of the Cornell AEPi. Does not—repeat: Does not—appear to be a parody. [New Voices]

• On the subject of Israel, Eric Alterman (a Cornell grad!) finds clowns to the left of him and jokers to the right. [Moment]

• Is Jean-Marc Liling’s Jerusalem apartment more “Jerusalem” or more “European”? Either way, it is totally awesome. Jerusalem is totally the new Brooklyn! [NYT]

• Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA officer who handled Iranian defectors, was indicted for leaking information to a Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter. [AP]

• Apply for this year’s Selah Leadership Forum. You know you wanna! [Jewish Funds for Justice]

• Why aren’t all of you writing several-hundred-word blogposts inspired by Josh Lambert’s weekly column? [Erika Dreifus]

Kindergarten, Likud-style.

Hi Tzvika!

Photo of the day

(Reuters/Nir Elias/Gawker)

This is Tzvika! Tzvika had an unfortunate accident, but luckily the veterinarians at Ramat Gan Safari, outside Tel Aviv, came up with this way for Tzvika to scurry about, as turtles are wont to do.

UPDATE: Video here!!!

Meet Tzvika, the Turtle with Wheels for Legs [Gawker]

Nothing To Be Done

Today on Tablet


Today in Tablet Magazine, columnist Shalom Auslander wonders what his editor has been up to during the month since he submitted his latest manuscript.

Excuses, Excuses

Football and Fasting

Your Vox Tablet preview

(Eric Molinsky)

Trivia time, football fans: Who is Aaron Schatz (the founder and editor of Football Outsiders and the thinking wo/man’s go-to NFL commentator) talking about here?:

If you know, or care, or even if you don’t, we hope you’ll check out Scroll editor Marc Tracy’s interview with Schatz on the next episode of Vox Tablet, which goes up tomorrow, and includes a discussion of which team Jewish fans should be rooting for as the NFL season enters the playoffs.

Anorexia, Bulimia Strike the Observant

Physical ideals, dietary laws contribute to trend


According to numerous studies, eating disorders are an increasing problem among Orthodox Jewish women. The main problem seems to be that discussing them is taboo. However—believe it or not—religious days of fasting actually aren’t helping matters, either. Perhaps most of all, slim brides are highly prized, while at the same time the suggestion of an eating disorder connotes mental illness, which in turn is strongly stigmatized. Even the laws of kashrut are said to play a role: “You’re already struggling with an eating disorder and now you have all these foods that you can’t eat, it can be very difficult,” argues Philadelphia-based dietitian Jodi Krumholz.

Israel has among the world’s highest rates of anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating.

In 2008, in Tablet Magazine predecessor, Abby Ellin reported that eating disorders are the top destructive behavior among Jewish girls.

Eating Disorders a Problem Among Haredim [Ynet]
Related: Pounds of Flesh []

Pearl’s Suspension Set, Vols Are Back on Track

Why Tennessee is still our team

Coach Bruce Pearl in November.(Nick Laham/Getty Images)

Immediately after I lauded Coach Bruce Pearl’s then-#11 Tennessee Volunteers for defeating then-#3 Pittsburgh, Tablet Magazine’s official team went into a tailspin, achieving a 2-4 record over the rest of December, including a three-game losing streak, to mid-major teams. As this blogpost notes, it was not exactly where the Vols, who reached the Elite Eight in last year’s NCAA Tournament, wanted to be upon entering January and their conference schedule, the first eight games of which Pearl will be barred from coaching due to NCAA violations.

The blogpost above wonders why he still has a job; I won’t repeat my sermon about how big-time NCAA competition is inherently and irredeemably corrupt, and that the only thing notable about Pearl’s transgressions was that he got caught and that he was genuinely contrite. Nor will I spend much time reminding you that he is a spectacular coach and all-around mensch. I merely want to note that last night, playing their final out-of-conference game, the Vols demolished the in-state rival #22 Memphis Tigers (coached by Josh Pastner, also a Member of the Tribe), 104-84. They, in other words, are back.

Finally, a thank-you to the above blogpost for reminding me that Tennessee’s program in the 1970s was the site of the “Ernie and Bernie Show”—Ernie as in Ernie Grunfeld, as in one of the players you can select in our Choose Your All-Time Jewish-American Starting Five game. Go Vols, indeed!

Ten Games Go a Long Way for Bruce Pearl’s Future [CBS Sports]
Related: We’ve Got Game
It’s the Bernie and Ernie Show [Sports Illustrated]
Earlier: Scandal Passing, Pearl’s Vols Enjoy Success

The Rotten Something in the State of Turkey

Today on Tablet


Gareth H. Jenkins recounts the ruling AKP’s decade-long trajectory toward increasing corruption and authoritarianism today in Tablet Magazine. It is ironic because the AKP’s initial rise to power, in 1999, coincided with what was comparatively one of modern Turkey’s most democratic moments.

As for the U.S. diplomatic cables, revealed by WikiLeaks, alleging that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has dirty money stashed away in eight Swiss bank accounts? The government’s response was essentially to tar WikiLeaks as a Zionist enterprise, a response that, Jenkins concludes, was “probably more revealing about the nature of AKP rule than the allegations themselves … further proof not only of the widespread paranoia and anti-Semitism in the party but also of the government’s growing tendency to try to intimidate its critics into silence.”


Should Pollard Be Freed?

If he deserves it, yes; as a diplomatic chip, no

Jonathan Pollard.(Haaretz)

“I think it is important to underscore that Mr. Pollard was convicted of some of the most serious crimes that anybody can be charged (with),” said outgoing White House press secretary Robert Gibbs. He was, of course, referring to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s request that President Obama free Jonathan Pollard, the American convicted in 1987 of spying for Israel and sentenced to life imprisonment. Those who want Pollard freed—many of them organized, remarkably, by a 25-year-old volunteer—probably don’t feel particularly comforted. But a decision has apparently not yet been made.

What is nice about the understandably charged debate is that it seems to be playing out largely outside the confines of the U.S.-Israeli relationship and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Instead—and contrary to the misguided wishes of some—it is properly boiling down to an argument over what one specific criminal’s exact crimes were, and how much punishment those crimes merit. Lovers of justice should be pleased. (more…)

Daybreak: Bibi Booed at Fire Service

Plus U.S. stays out of offshore dispute, and more in the news


• Angry relatives of the dead disrupted Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech at a ceremony for those killed in last month’s forest fire. [AP/NYT]

• The United Nations declined to rule on a Lebanese request to protect its territorial waters from Israeli encroachment. This brewing scuffle was prompted by the massive offshore energy find. [JTA]

• The IDF is investigating the recent death of a 36-year-old Palestinian protestor; some officials have anonymously claimed she had a pre-existing condition that made tear gas fatal. [WP]

• Gal Beckerman explains how Russian-Jewish oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky has stood up for his country (while not really identifying with the Jews). [Forward]

• Israel asked the U.S. to ban IHH, the Turkish charity, alleged to have links to radical Islamist groups, that sponsored the flotilla. [Reuters/Haaretz]

• Longtime manager Diane Becker gets Elaine’s now that its owner, Elaine Kaufman, has passed. [NYT]

Sundown: Gaza’s ‘Planned’ Economy

Plus Mama Streisand, Judah Magnes, and more

Barbra Streisand in November.(Mike Coppola/Getty Images for National Museum of American Jewish History)

• In 2008, according to a new WikiLeaks cable, Israel told the United States it deliberately was keeping Hamas-ruled Gaza’s economy near, but not at, the brink of collapse. [Reuters]

• Barbra’s got the stuff? Streisand may play Mama in a Gypsy movie. [Arts Beat]

• Did not know much about Judah L. Magnes, but a new book seems a great occasion for his rediscovery. Fascinating figure. [Forward]

• The spying vulture, and four other nefarious Mossad plots. [Foreign Policy]

• Here’s a hint: If you click “Unsubscribe,” even Hamas will let you off its listserv. [The Onion]

• Some interesting thoughts on Jewish parochialism in the context of the narrow, self-contained band of secular Israel. [Economist]

Speaking of secular Israel, below is “Secular Quarter #3,” the winner of the Israel-based Association of Planning and Conservation’s contest to depict Jerusalem 100 years from now on film.

Would-Be Jews

Nominating Garry Trudeau

Mark Slackmeyer, who is Jewish.(Wikipedia)

JTA Editor-in-Chief Ami Eden asks for a list of “Gentiles who really should be Jewish.” His two picks are Bob Costas and Donald Trump. Costas makes perfect sense—how is he not Jewish? (well, he’s of Greek descent, which is pretty close to the exception that proves the rule)—though frankly I’m glad not to have Trump on Team Tribe.

But since he asks for further suggestions, here’s one: Doonesbury writer Garry Trudeau. Witty, liberal, and zeitgeist-capturing, his field, comics, might be second only to musical theater in terms of creative media dominated by Jews. Alas, however, he is not a Jew. But he should be.

Any more suggestions?

Double Standards

Today on Tablet


Today in Tablet Magazine, Mideast columnist Lee Smith condemns certain Western intellectuals—New York Times columnist Roger Cohen is specifically censured—for abandoning moral judgment when analyzing regional affairs and instead adopting a frequently phony “rationalism.”

High Morals

Star Running Back Flirts With Judaism

Ricky Williams observes Shabbat

Ricky Williams in November.(Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Over the summer, New York Knicks power forward Amar’e Stoudemire grabbed headlines—and not just Tablet Magazine’s—for his trip to Israel and flirtation with Judaism. Yesterday brought news of another quirky, über-talented black athlete’s earnest philo-Semitism: Ricky Williams of the Miami Dolphins (though he wants to be traded) revealed that he has been studying Hebrew and recently observed the Jewish Sabbath by dipping three times in his unheated hot tub and then spending from Friday evening through Saturday evening abstaining from television and reading. “When the day shifted from Saturday afternoon to Saturday night, even my thoughts shifted,” he related. “There was something very pure about that Saturday” (you can listen here). His wife apparently jokes that he is going to turn Tribe.

Williams is an unusually fascinating sports figure. (more…)

Thank You!

Thank you for subscribing to the Tablet Magazine Daily Digest.
Please tell us about you.