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Daybreak: Report Says Iran Still Stonewalling

Plus Israel and Russia ink historic deal, and more in the news

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An Iranian reactor at Bushehr.(IIPA via Getty Images)

• Official nuclear inspectors report Iran still does not cooperate with them, meaning the latest sanctions, thought to bite more than previous ones, have not yet altered its behavior. The country has enriched over 6,000 pounds of uranium, enough for two bombs. [NYT]

• Mideast leaders expressed hope concerning what will follow last week’s direct peace talks. (Except for Avigdor Lieberman.) [NYT]

• A detailed look into who is funding both sides of the Park51 debate. [Politico]

• Palestinian Authority security forces face their toughest challenge yet—you can expect a continued uptick in West Bank violence as direct talks proceed apace. [LAT]

• Israel and Russia signed their first military deal, pledging cooperation in fighting nuclear proliferation and terrorism and leaving the door open to Russia’s buying further Israeli-made drones. (Defense Minister Barak had also sought to prevent missile sales to Syria.) [LAT]

• An interview with a Reform rabbi who has taken the lead in trying to force Israeli courts to grant greater accomodations to Progressive Jews. [LAT]

Sundown: That Was the Week That Was

Plus anti-anti-Semitism at Yale, and more

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(Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty Images)

• “Netanyahu cannot offer the ‘Clinton parameters’ of a decade ago, and Abbas cannot accept less. It’s that simple. Tragic, but simple.” And six more direct talks takeaways. [Laura Rozen]

• Do we really need that second day of Rosh Hashanah? [JTA]

• President Obama, as seen through the eyes of President Ahmadinejad’s supporters. (Eerily similar to President Obama as seen through the eyes of Tea Partiers.) [Guardian]

• The PLO Envoy complained that Yale’s recent conference on anti-Semitism was “racist propaganda.” [JTA]

• Our condolences go out to parenting columnist Marjorie Ingall on the loss of her grandmother. [Marjorie Ingall]

• Tel Aviv has been nominated for Sexiest Place on Earth for gay travelers. It is going up against Toronto (really?), Barcelona, Vegas (really??), and Rio. [Ynet]

Three-day weekend. How does it feel?

Kahane’s Kosher Triumph

And a reminder to read our story on his death

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Apropos Peter Lance’s investigation into the prosecution of Rabbi Meir Kahane’s killers, Tablet Magazine contributor David E. Y. Sarna writes in,

When Kahane was incarcerated, the Bureau of Prisons refused him kosher food. He sued, and the case came before Judge Jack Weinstein. The issue was whether kosher was an essential part of Judaism. Judge Weinstein, in his decision, quoted from my late father’s Understanding Genesis that following Jacob’s battle with the Angel, from that day forth Jews do not eat from the sciatic nerve, and that this was the origin of the laws of Kashrut, a fundamental tenet of the Jewish faith.

Ever since that decision the BOP has been required to provide kosher food for all Jewish inmates who request it.

Interesting fact. Also, it gives me an excuse to point out that Lance’s article is truly must-read, establishing as it does that the ultra-nationalist Kahane’s 1990 murder in Manhattan was not some small provincial story, but rather an absolute hinge moment in the United States’s war with al-Qaida; and that, in fact, you can trace the success of several al-Qaida operations, including 9/11, to the mishandling of the prosecution of Kahane’s killers. It’s a long piece, but you have a three-day weekend coming up, so print the damn thing out and give it a read.

First Blood [Tablet Magazine]
Related: Understanding Genesis [Amazon]

Turkish Franchise Revs Up Flotilla Flick

No word on whether Busey is in this one

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Gary Busey in Valley of the Wolves: Iraq.(Available Images)

Coming soon to a theater near you (assuming you live in Turkey): Valley of the Wolves: Palestine, an action thriller about a Turkish spy sent to kill the Israeli commander who ordered the boarding of the Mavi Marmara, the boat on which nine armed pro-Palestinian activists were killed last Memorial Day weekend. It’s actually merely the latest installment in the Valley of the Wolves franchise, which has included a 24-like TV show as well as the 2006 blockbuster Valley of the Wolves: Iraq, at the time the most expensive Turkish movie ever made. It features a U.S. Special Forces leader, played by Billy Zane, who calls himself a “peacekeeper of God”; a fictional U.S. military massacre of Iraqi civilians; and a Jewish-American doctor who does a Mengele impersonation, shipping human hearts to London and Tel Aviv. (Did I mention this doctor is played by Gary Busey?!?!?!)

Tellingly, the one Turkish person whom the Times quotes as being against the franchise is a film critic: “It’s sacrificing cinema to politics,” complains Mehmet Acar. The debate over the role politics should (and shouldn’t) play in art is a fascinating one, but most of the worthwhile participants were Jews, so I doubt it will be of much interest. Anyway, if this new film (scheduled for an October release) is anything like the Iraq one, expect yet another thorn in the side of the tattered Israeli-Turkish relationship.

Turkish Action Film Depicts Israeli Raid [NYT]
Related: What Turks Are Watching [Slate]
Israel Bites The Bait [Tablet Magazine]

Jews Biking for the Environment

Or, how not to get lapped by this woman

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Don’t mess with the Messinger.(AJWS)

When New Yorkers think of Jews and bikes, they probably think we’re against them as a result of the Satmar Hasidim’s outrage over the cycling lanes in south Williamsburg. But over this coming weekend, 175 Jews will be traveling via Brooklyn’s favorite mode of transportation in order to raise money for Hazon, the largest Jewish environmentalist nonprofit in the United States. The annual New York Jewish Environmental Bike Ride, which is Hazon’s largest fundraiser, has already generated $230,000 in donations.

Having done the Ride last year, I can offer this year’s participants a little bit of advice. Namely: Train. I wish I had. I rode nearly 100 miles over two days, despite having spent just a few hours in the saddle over the prior 16 years. As a result, everyone pedaled faster than I did, including Ruth Messinger. Yes, the former Manhattan borough president (and current head of the American Jewish World Service) has been a longtime supporter of Hazon. Reader, I ate her dust.

Better Than Expected

Hope springs eternal, but could it be for real this time?

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Yesterday.(Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The direct talks in Washington, D.C., ended, and it is safe to say, without predicting what comes next, that they ended as well as anyone frankly had the right to hope (and much better than the pessimists would have guessed). This is not to say we will see peace in the Middle East in the next year, as the Obama administration wishes, or in the next five or ten. Still, consider:

• Prime Minister Netanyahu acknowledged the legitimacy of Palestinian claims to the land.

• President Abbas condemned the Hamas attacks on Jews in the West Bank (including one which killed four), while his Palestinian Authority, to much public consternation, made more than 250 arrests. A friend remarked that it was bizarrely, and pleasurably, meta to watch the two leaders speak of Hamas’s efforts to derail the talks as, well, just that, and to state explicitly that neither was going to permit that to happen.

• At one point yesterday, Netanyahu and Abbas sat in a room and talked, just the two of them.

• Abbas agreed to Netanyahu’s U.S.-backed proposal to meet every two weeks. The next get-together will be September 14-15 in the region; Secretary of State Clinton, who mediated yesterday’s talks, will attend.

And yet! (more…)

Today on Tablet

Defending Wiesenthal, not healing the world, and more

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Today in Tablet Magazine, Ron Rosenbaum praises famed Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal, arguing that many of his so-called imperfections were necessary to the fulfillment of his mission. Marissa Brostoff examines David Horowitz’s philosophical attack on tikkun olam—that it is Jews’ responsibility to “heal the world”—in favor of “a kind of anti-humanist existentialism.” Next week’s Vox Tablet podcast comes early, as host Sara Ivry and Rabbi Andy Bachman introspectively stroll around Brooklyn’s Mount Carmel Cemetery. In this week’s haftorah, Liel Leibovitz finds that even God finds fatherhood difficult. The Scroll would like to see God trying eight posts a day five days a week.

Salita, on Home Turf, Wins Comeback

Brighton Beach brawl ends in decision for rabbi-in-training

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Franklin Gonzalez takes a punch from Dmitriy Salita.(All photos by Kate Abbey-Lambertz.)

Wednesday night, Dmitriy “Star of David” Salita (31-1-1, 16 KOs) pulled out a tough victory by decision against Franklin Gonzalez (13-6, 9 KOs) at Brighton Beach’s Oceana Hall. (You can watch the fight tonight on The Jewish Channel.) Nine months ago, the Ukrainian-born Orthodox rabbi-in training was trounced by Amir Khan in England. He later told Tablet Magazine that the extremely hostile crowd was to blame and received some friendly advice: Fight in Brooklyn next time.

The sold-out event, billed as “Redemption,” featured a very Brooklyn crowd, which waited through seven preliminary fights for the main bout. The audience, many wearing yarmulkes, some shouting in Spanish and English at the opening boxers, all agreed not only that Salita would win, but that he had to win. Where they differed was why. (more…)

Daybreak: Obama Takes Charge

Plus: Abbas’ reluctance, Palestinian dissent, and more in the news

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President Obama out front.(Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty Images)

• This week’s generally successful direct talks perhaps above all represented the United States—and particularly President Obama—showing how powerful it remains. [Politico]

• Speaking of which, the United States is reportedly pressuring President Abbas not to leave the talks even should West Bank building start up when the freeze expires later this month. [Haaretz]

• Meanwhile, the problem with Hamas’ attacks (and pledged attacks), beyond them themselves, is that they represent broader division among the Palestinian people over the attractiveness of peace talks, including among Palestinian Authority leadership. [WSJ]

• Want your West Bank microcosm? It’s Hebron. [LAT]

• Influential columnist Ari Shavit asks whether we should be aiming for an interim deal rather than a comprehensive, final one. [Haaretz]

• Four Orthodox members of a Shomrim Patrol were shot last night in Boro Park; all survived. [NYT]

Sundown: Progress

Valley on Valley, Hitch on faith, and more

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Abbas and Netanyahu shake hands at the State Department.(Jason Reed-Pool/Getty Images)

• Today’s direct talks went well: President Abbas agreed to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s U.S.-backed proposal to meet every two weeks (starting on September 14 in the Mideast). I’ll have more on all this tomorrow. [Politico]

• The YIVO Institute for Jewish Research has already found upwards of 15,000 volumes in Chaim Grade’s old apartment. [Arts Beat]

Forward cartoonist Eli Valley discusses his life and work. [The Comics Journal]

• Christopher Hitchens further elaborates on the topic of praying (and not praying) for him. [VF]

• Reza Aslan and Bernard Avishai call on President Obama to do all in his power to prevent Israel from taking military action against Iran. [IHT]

• Buzz Bissinger asks: Who are the two Jewish pitchers who won the Cy Young Award? Peruse his whole feed to find the answer. [@buzzbissinger]

Pekar’s ‘Jewish Review’ Collaborator Made a Stir

Writer’s widow resented Seibel

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The late, great Harvey Pekar.(Wikipedia)

We learn much about the final days of comics writer Harvey Pekar (whom Vanessa Davis graphically eulogized in Tablet Magazine) from a New York Times feature. When he died in July, I noted that among Pekar’s final works published while he was still alive was his column, written by him and drawn by Tara Seibel, in the most recent Jewish Review of Books. In fact, Seibel, a 37-year-old artist based in Pekar’s Cleveland, plays a prominent role in the article, as Pekar’s wife, Joyce Brabner, apparently clashed with her and, even more, resented her and her husband’s relationship (which by all accounts did not cross any red lines).

The Times reports:

Ms. Seibel made no secret of her admiration for the pioneering comic work of Mr. Pekar, whom she described as “a 70-year-old hipster who loved listening to the Beastie Boys in the car.” In turn he provided her with stories that she illustrated for publications like Chicago Newcity, The Austin Chronicle and The Jewish Review of Books.

Ms. Seibel was also one of four artists whom Mr. Pekar invited to work on the Pekar Project, which starting in 2009 was an effort to translate his work and persona to the Internet. … (more…)

‘In The Afterlife We Have To Be Married?’

Your Vox Tablet preview

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(Eric Molinsky)

On next week’s Vox Tablet podcast (which we’re actually posting tomorrow so you can enjoy it over Labor Day weekend), host Sara Ivry goes a-wandering through the century-old Mount Carmel Cemetery with Andy Bachman, the rabbi of Congregation Beth Elohim in Brooklyn. Together, they talk about how shifts in American Jewish life are playing out in our attitudes toward death and burial. It’s a heavy conversation at times (as befits the High Holiday season), but it has its share of lighter moments as well, like this digression into television references to the afterlife.

The Macaroons Sing ‘Apples and Honey’

Not your grandpa’s Rosh Hashanah song

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The video for our friends The Macaroons’ “Apples and Honey” dropped today. (“Dropped.” Look at me, talking like the youth.) Check out the delightful song, which I think sounds like Matthew Sweet (thus dating myself yet again), and the charming video, which is sure to entertain your tykes this holiday season. And please note the brief appearance of Lady Gala: Just like her namesake, she wears no pants!

You can also come see the band in concert (and say hi to me! I’ll be introducing them!) on September 26th, at 11 am, at the Tablet Magazine/JDub/Congregation Beth Elohim Sukkot street fair in Park Slope, Brooklyn (on Garfield Place between 8th Avenue and Prospect Park West).

Happy 90210 Day

Where the Jews go to school

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Navid Shirazi, who actually attends West Beverly in the new show.(90210pedia)

Today is National 90210 Day (check your calendar), which is only an official holiday for those of who grew up watching Beverly Hills, 90210 and thinking it was an accurate representation of life on the West Coast. When I moved to Los Angeles in 2004 after college, I learned that Beverly Hills High, which the original hit Fox show was based on, was actually populated by Persian Jews, not WASPs from Minneapolis à la Brenda (Shannon Doherty) and Brandon (Jason Priestly).

Though the rebooted version of the series, which airs on the CW, does include an Iranian character, Navid Shirazi (pictured!), back in the old days the Tribe was represented solely by Andrea Zuckerman, who, naturally, was smart, nerdy, and had curly hair and glasses. She was the editor of the school newspaper and came from “wrong” (read: Lower-middle-class) side of the tracks, and was played by the Jewish actress Gabrielle Carteris, who though tasked with playing a high school sophomore was actually old enough to lie about her age on JDate (had it existed).

Also Jewish in real life but less obviously so on the show were Ian Ziering, who played the superficial ladies’ man Steve Sanders, and, of course, Tori Spelling, who played the virginal Donna Martin. Spelling earned the role based on talent alone; it had nothing to do with her father, the show’s producer, Aaron Spelling.

Hapoelim of the World, Unite!

Tel Aviv soccer club enters the Champions League

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In the seaside suburb of Tel Aviv where I grew up, there were few insults more devastating to a young man’s pride than being called a fan of Hapoel. My friends and family all rooted for Maccabi Tel Aviv, Hapoel’s chief rival. Maccabi is the soccer team of champions: With gold-and-azure jerseys, a Star of David for an emblem, and a name that evoked the proud warriors of Jewish antiquity, we had no doubt that the Maccabis were the ones to follow. Hapoel, by contrast, literally means “the worker”; add to that the red shirts and the socialist ties (check out its logo), and you have a young, zealous Zionist sports fan’s worst nightmare.

But last week, as I heard of Hapoel Tel Aviv’s advancement to the prestigious group stage of the UEFA Champions League—the annual tournament that pits Europe’s 32 greatest clubs against each other—I was delighted to discover that the silly prejudices of my youth have faded away. I was thrilled for Hapoel, and proud to see an Israeli soccer club enjoy such a sensational achievement. (more…)

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