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Patient Testimony

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Today in Tablet Magazine, famed Holocaust scholar (and Nextbook Press author) Deborah Lipstadt reconsiders Claude Lanzmann’s classic, mammoth documentary Shoah on the occasion of a new theatrical run.

Monumental

Jewish Badger Named Best Lineman

Carimi is Wisconsin’s left tackle

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Carimi (#68) celebrates after a dramatic win at Iowa in October.(David Purdy/Getty Images)

Congratulations to Gabe Carimi, this year’s winner of the Outland Trophy, which is given to college football’s best interior lineman (on either side of the ball). A Jewish kid from the Badger State, Carimi played at the all-important left tackle position, a crucial role in the bruising offense that rushed for 239.9 yards and gave up fewer than one sack per game; three times scored 70 or more points; and carried the Badgers to an 11-1 record, a Big Ten title, and a Rose Bowl berth.

If drafted (or, rather, when drafted—the best left tackle tends to get drafted), Carimi will join the elite fraternity of professional Jewish offensive linemen, which currently includes Lennie Friedman of the Cleveland Browns, Kyle Kosier of the Dallas Cowboys, Adam Goldberg of the St. Louis Rams, and Geoff Schwartz of the Carolina Panthers.

But first, the favored team of such Jewish luminaries as Sen. Herb Kohl, Rabbi Andy Bachman, and your humble blogger, meets Texas Christian University on New Year’s Day in Pasadena. On, Wisconsin!

Gabe Carimi Wins Outland Trophy [Orlando Sentinel]

Former FBI Lawyer Opposes Pollard Release

Alleges spy’s full damage remains untold

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Jonathan Pollard.(Haaretz)

Over the past months, momentum had been building toward the United States perhaps releasing Jonathan Pollard, the man who in 1987 was convicted of and sentenced to life for spying on behalf of Israel. You had early chatter that Pollard could be released in exchange for some sort of peace process deal; then you had former deputy defense secretary Lawrence Korb claim that his former boss Caspar Weinberger’s anti-Israel bias contributed to Pollard’s life sentence; then you had 39 Democratic congressmen, including influential ones like Barney Frank and Anthony Weiner, asking President Obama to commute Pollard’s sentence; and finally you had reports that Prime Minister Netanyahu had asked for the freedom of Pollard (since honorarily made an Israeli citizen) as part of a deal in which his cabinet would approve a 90-day West Bank construction freeze. (The case for Pollard’s release, perhaps best articulated by Gil Troy in Tablet Magazine, rests not on his innocence, but on the arguable lack of damage his crimes did and on the disproportionate nature of his sentence compared to similar spies.)

But in the past week, two things have happened to make Pollard’s release less likely. First and most important, of course: The United States has given up on attempting to secure an extension of the freeze, in turn leaving Bibi with less of a quid to offer for the Pollard quo. But secondarily and more interestingly, M.E. “Spike” Bowman, a former Navy and FBI lawyer who told a Washington Post reporter that he was “the only person who actually touched all aspects of the case,” has come out and opposed Pollard’s release, on the grounds that the disclosures did immense damage. (more…)

The Other Jerusalem

Today on Tablet

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Todd Gitlin takes us on a tour of East Jerusalem (with photos!) today in Tablet Magazine, reporting firsthand on the realities of Jewish settlers living in Arab neighborhoods—some in houses that once belonged to Palestinians (and perhaps still should).

He arrives in the Arab village of Silwan during one of its famed regular Friday-afternoon protests, which frequently attract prominent Israeli left-wing activists.

On this occasion, the 300 to 400 demonstrators, some banging drums, were in a festive mood, perhaps because they knew that former President Jimmy Carter and former Irish President Mary Robinson were expected. They were mostly young, almost entirely Israeli, and cheered on by an encampment of young Palestinians. These Friday afternoon gatherings have evolved into the quintessential rituals of the Israeli left. On a Saturday evening last March, some 3,000 protesters showed up.

At the dot of 4 p.m., Carter’s limo drove up. Chants began: “Carr-terr! Carr-terr!” Carter and Robinson waded into the crowd, Carter was handed a bullhorn and offered “congratulations” to the protesters for “trying to resolve this injustice peacefully.” He deplored “demolition” and “confiscation.” Carter, the president who brokered a peace treaty between Israel and its most formidable military enemy, is regularly, vehemently, reviled by the Israeli right and its American supporters. At the Mt. Zion Hotel, his name was synonymous with the devil incarnate.

Facts on the Ground

On Fire

A tragedy in Israel lets the ‘ethnic genie’ out of the bottle

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(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.

Last week’s wildfire in northern Israel caused the deaths of more than 40 people and destroyed thousands of acres of forest. It also let the shed ha’adati—the ethnic genie—out of the bottle.

You might think the ethnic genie (which is probably best thought of, in English, as playing the race card) is a reference to the Arab-Jewish divide. But actually it concerns the rift—stoked by political rhetoric—between Ashkenazim and Mizrahim, perhaps best encapsulated by the way European Jews are venerated as the pioneers who tamed the swamps and desert, while Jews of Middle Eastern or North African origin were dumped in ma’abarot, a kind of refugee camp for new immigrants. (more…)

Daybreak: Turkey and Israel Talk, Don’t Deal

Plus is Abbas a perennial no-sayer? and more in the news

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President Abbas yesterday.(Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images)

• While Israel and Turkey have exchanged kind words over their recent diplomatic talks, an apology, and therefore a deal, has been conspicuously absent. [Haaretz]

• Obama administration officials clamored to have their ideas heard over what the United States’s next step vis-à-vis the peace process should be. Their deadline is tonight, when Secretary of State Clinton is set to give a big speech expected to lay out the new strategy. [LAT]

• Columnist Jackson Diehl blames the failure of the latest round of talks on Palestinian President Abbas—who, he reports, has a history of declining good deals—and on the administration for failing to recognize this. [WP]

• Roger Cohen’s column is about an activist-y young American Jew who went to Israel, was spat on by haredim, and then joined J Street. [NYT]

• Hadassah will pay back $45 million of Madoff-related money as part of Bankruptcy Court proceedings. [eJewishPhilanthropy]

• A WikiLeaks cable revealed U.S. plans to try to get Spain an underwater treasure in exchange for a Camille Pissaro painting, now in Spain, that the Nazis confiscated from a Jewish family. The ploy failed. [ARTINFO]

Sundown: Religious Women Get Together

Plus Rajon Rondo is a rabbi, and more

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Rajon Rondo of the Boston Celtics (and The Runnin’ Rabbi’s).(Deadspin)

• The first Reform, Reconstructionist, and Conservative woman rabbis celebrated Hanukkah with the first Open Orthodox Rabba. [Jewesses with Attitude]

• Rajon Rondo of the Boston Celtics played on a Louisville softball team called “The Runnin’ Rabbi’s.” Yes this really happened. [Deadspin]

• Mayor Mike Bloomberg needs to end every speech with “and I’m not running for President.” New rule. [Ben Smith]

• Bill Donahue of the Catholic League is attacking Boca Raton for displaying a menorah and a Christmas tree but no nativity scene. Does he not know who lives in Boca? [JTA]

• Sir Paul McCartney plays Chabad. [New Jersey Jewish News]

• A new poll shows that Americans favor U.S. engagement in the peace process. [Laura Rozen]

• A Swiss responder to the forest fire is moving to Israel to be with the woman he loves. Aw! [Ynet]

The White House Hanukkah party featured a menorah salvaged from a Katrina destroyed synagogue. The congregation broke ground on their new location today. Feels like a miracle to me.

Israel Attorney General Investigating Rabbis

Perhaps under pressure from you, the reader

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Earlier today, Liel Leibovitz wrote about the group of Israeli municipal rabbis who last week signed a religious ruling saying Jews should be punished for renting to non-Jews. He called for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to go beyond his already stern denouncement and instruct Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein “to take immediate action… and make sure [the rabbis] no longer enjoy the prestige and the public funding that comes with their posts.”

A few hours later, the Attorney General, perhaps under pressure from Scroll readers, has indeed ordered an investigation into the rabbis’ letter.

“The Attorney General believes that the comments attributed to the rabbis are seemingly problematic in a number of ways and are not emblematic of proper public behavior,” wrote Weinstein.

“The legal aspect of the incident is more complicated. The attorney general has instructed the relevant parties in his office to check the criminal and disciplinary aspects raised by the rabbis’ statements.”

While the Attorney General does not have the power to discipline the rabbis, he can instruct Israel’s two Chief Rabbis to take action. Legalese aside, this is the first step towards accountability.

Israel’s Legal Establishment to Examine Rabbis’ Letter Forbidding Rental of Homes to Arabs [Haaretz]
Earlier: Fire The Rabbis

‘Yishama-O-Rama (Radiata Edit)’

‘Anander Mol, Anander Veig,’ day by day

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(Brian Scott/Boondesign)

Every day of Hanukkah, we will publish a track from Marc Weidenbaum’s holiday-inspired album of remixes, Anander Mol, Anander Veig, along with its original version. Today: “Yishama-O-Rama (Radiata Edit).”

Here is the original track for “Yishama-O-Rama (Radiata Edit),” by Klezmer Rebs:

Here is the remix, by Cut Loose, aka Jen Bell:

Jews Give It Up

Billionaires pledge their fortunes

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(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Seventeen new billionaires have pledged to donate at least half of their estates to charity (probably after being cornered by Warren Buffet and Bill Gates at a party). In the prior batch, we calculated, 19 of the 40 generous households were Jewish. Nearly half!

In this latest round, Jews include: Sydney Kimmel; Carl Icahn; Theodore Forstmann; Nicolas Berggruen; David and Barbara Green; and Facebook co-founders Mark Zuckerberg and Dustin Moskovitz (known in my house as “the other Facebook guy”). So 7 out of 17! 26 out of 57! Not bad at all, and good for them.

Zuckerberg and Icahn Join Buffett and Gates on Giving Pledge List [Dealbook]
Earlier: Generous Jews

Fire the Rabbis

Bibi and Peres denounced Israel’s racist rabbis. They can do better.

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Prime Minister Netanyahu.(Guy Assayag - Pool/Getty Images)

Earlier this week, scores of Israel’s chief municipal rabbis signed on to a religious ruling forbidding homeowners to rent their property to non-Jews. “Their way of life is different than that of Jews,” read the ruling. “Among [the gentiles] are those who are bitter and hateful toward us and who meddle into our lives to the point where they are a danger.” Any Jew who sells or rents his property to an Arab, the ruling concluded, should be ostracized by his neighbors and denied the right to read from the Torah.

To their credit, most of Israel’s leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres, fiercely denounced the rabbis and stated that the ruling stands in opposition to Judaism’s values and teachings. But words aren’t enough: To clearly send a message that racism will not be tolerated, the government must act swiftly to remove these noxious men from their posts. (more…)

Today on Tablet

An unlikely romance, the Palestinian Ghandi, and more

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Today in Tablet Magazine, columnist Michelle Goldberg reports on the Palestinian nonviolence movement. Margot Lurie dishes on the passionate love affair between Jewish novelist Nelson Algren and Simone de Beauvoir and its influence on the brilliant feminist’s work. Liel Leibovitz argues that the Israel government has shirked its responsibilities. The Scroll will try to stay true to its constituents.

Firefighting Report Blames Interior Minister

Interior minister blames everyone else

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Repairing electricity cables downed in the fire.(Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images)

Four million trees, 42 people, a fiasco of a fire response, and four days later, Israel’s State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss released a report yesterday explaining that Israel has a firefighting problem. Shocking! The report was actually already in the works—a follow-up to an apparently ignored 2006 report stating much the same thing—and released early so politicians could use it as a loufa to wash themselves of any blame. (Today in Tablet Magazine, Liel Leibovitz argued that the response to the fire revealed an endemic failure of governance in Israel.)

The report attacked Israel’s firefighting service as the weak link in Israel’s civil emergency forces. It also set the blame squarely on embattled Interior Minister Eli Yishai of the ultra-religious Shas party, as well as on Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz and Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

Yishai, for his part, used the report to suggest that the fault lay in “all of Israel’s previous governments” (Ben-Gurion might as well have fertilized the forest with gasoline). He, meanwhile, was the unsung hero of the disaster.

“The media lynched me,” Yishai said. “If there was a non-Haredi minister in the interior ministry, he would be staring in all the media outlets and they would have said to him: ‘How you predicted, how you shouted out.’ Here the situation is opposite.”

Livni Slams PM’s Handling of Fires as ‘Media Act’ [JPost]
State Comptroller Blames Eli Yishai For Collapse of Firefighting Services [Haaretz]
Fire Services Report Shows Israel Unready For War, Again [Haaretz]
Earlier: What Israel Lost in the Fire

Daybreak: Israel to Apologize to Turkey

Plus, indirect peace talks to resume, and more in the news

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• Israel and Turkey have almost finished negotiating the wording of an apology over the flotilla. The final deal will probably include hundreds of thousands of dollars to the families of those who died in the raid. [Haaretz]

• Export restrictions on Gaza will be eased. [NYT]

• The Israeli Air Force bombed three sites in Gaza in response to yesterday’s mortar attack. [YNet]

• The end of the U.S. push for a building freeze is a rebuke to both sides. [NYT]

• Speaking of which, U.S. Middle East Peace Envoy George Mitchell will return to the region next week for more indirect negotiations. [LAT]

• Heda Kovaly, Czech Holocaust memoirist, is dead. She was 91. [NYT]

Sundown: Gaza Shell Hits Israel

Plus Mike still wants to be liked, and more

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Michael Bloomberg speechifying earlier today.(Chris Hondros/Getty Images)

• A mortar shell from Gaza landed in the western Negev, in Israel, injuring one man. [Haaretz]

• Michael Bloomberg continues to maybe position himself for a centrist third-party presidential run, this time with a speech on economic policy. [NYT]

• The State Department clarified that it still opposes Israeli settlement-building. [Haaretz]

• Reza Aslan proposes a Palestinian declaration of statehood, if only to dare President Obama when it comes to the U.N. vote. [Daily Beast]

• An interview with Walt “Clyde” Frazier on the occasion of the reissue of his book, co-written by Ira Berkow. Go buy it! [NYMag.com]

• Somehow, the NHL’s Florida Panthers screwed up their yarmulke giveaway. [Deadspin]

The International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame inducted seven members, none of which I have heard of. But hey, here is one of them, Mike Sigel, dominating the felt:

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