Daybreak: Israel to Apologize to Turkey

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


• 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

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! []

• 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:

Hapoel Tel Aviv’s Almost-Miracle

Squad bows out of Champions League in 2-2 draw


Hanukkah, traditionally, is a splendid time for Jews in need of miracles, and the more celestially minded among Hapoel Tel Aviv’s fans were hoping that the same gracious God who found it in His heart to make that oil last just a few nights more would also help their team hold on to the dream of European glory for a little while longer. (Which is ironic considering that Hapoel’s much-reviled cross-town rival is Maccabi Tel Aviv.)

On Thanksgiving Eve—a date with no particular spiritual significance—that miracle seemed more possible than ever: With two goals from Eran Zahavi, one from Da Silva, and none from opponent Benfica Lisbon, Hapoel delivered the first Israeli victory in the Champions League since 2004 and sent the punditry into a tizzy. One more victory, they chattered, and Hapoel advances. All Tel Aviv’s Red Devils had to do was beat Lyon. (more…)

Harder Than Your Hanukkah

Today on Tablet


Today in Tablet Magazine, we excerpt from Natan Sharansky’s Fear No Evil. The Soviet refusenik (and now a prominent Israeli) recalls celebrating Hanukkah in the Gulag:

On the sixth night of Hanukkah the authorities confiscated my menorah with all my candles. I ran to the duty officer to find out what had happened.

“The candlesticks were made from state materials; this is illegal. You could be punished for this alone and the other prisoners are complaining. They’re afraid you’ll start a fire.”

I began to insist. “In two days Hanukkah will be over and then I’ll return this ‘state property’ to you. Now, however, this looks like an attempt to deny me the opportunity of celebrating Jewish holidays.”

The duty officer began hesitating. Then he phoned his superior and got his answer: “A camp is not a synagogue. We won’t permit Sharansky to pray here.”

Camp Fire

‘Hava Nagila’

‘Anander Mol, Anander Veig,’ day by day

(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: “Hava Nagila.”

Click here to listen to the original track for “Hava Nagila,” by Paul Toshner and Felix Benasuly, who perform together as

Here is the remix, by Roddy Schrock:

Diplomacy’s Femme Fatale

Today on Tablet


Today in Tablet Magazine, Mideast columnist Lee Smith shows that the Wikileaks cable reveal less about how, say, Arab Gulf countries actually feel about, say, Iran, and more about how they believe the United States can be seduced—and the dangers of the United States’ giving certain impressions about that. “Perhaps it is helpful,” Smith suggests,

to think of the Wikileaks cables in lay terms as a transcript of a guy (in this case, the Saudis) trying to pick up a pretty girl (the Americans) at a bar. What the boy says to the girl may or may not be true. What is most significant is the effect he means to produce, which is to convince the girl to go home with him. Hence, for observers what’s most interesting about the boy’s end of the conversation is the insight it offers into his own psyche—is he subtle, overbearing, self-obsessed, sensitive to others?—and into his perceptions of the girl.

The Game

Jewish Republican Concedes Final House Race

Randy Altschuler admits defeat

Tim Bishop celebrates victory over Randy Altschuler.(Politico)

In bad news for Republicans and reporters working a certain beat, this morning Randy Altschuler conceded to Rep. Tim Bishop, Democrat of New York. Thus ends the nation’s final outstanding House race as well as Eric Cantor’s dreams of building a GOP minyan (Republican Jews in the House and Senate include just Cantor and Rep.-elect Nan Hayworth, of New York). [UPDATE: Hayworth is not Jewish, but considers herself an "honorary Jew" because she is married to one.]

Simchat Democracy (otherwise known as Election Day) had closed with Bishop the apparent winner, but days later, Altschuler claimed the lead when it was discovered that a voting machine (no doubt an anti-Semitic one) had under-reported the number of ballots cast. The campaigns were due in court today to continue sorting through the remaining 1,000 challenged votes before Altschuler issued his concession.

As his name perhaps suggests, Bishop is not Jewish.

Randy Altschuler Concedes, Ending Last Contested House Race [Politico]
Earlier: A Few New Jews
It Happened Last Night

‘Voice’ Considers Bad Orthodox Landlords

Examines piety versus decency

House in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where non-Orthodox tenants are allegedly denied repairs.(Village Voice)

The cover story of this week’s Village Voice confronts a phenomenon with which anyone who has had the Kafkaesque experience known as “renting an apartment in New York City” likely has first-hand experience: The fact that many landlords, including ones who are not very nice to you—and, in extreme cases, who are genuine slumlords—happen to be Orthodox Jews. The story, which was prompted by an earlier Voice list of the city’s worst landlords (which included several Orthodox) and a subsequent Forward column, is a series of interviews with Jews who come at the problem from various perspectives. These include a few familiar names—including unofficial Hasidic-hipster liason Baruch Herzfeld and former-Orthodox blogger Shmarya Rosenberg. Best quotes after the jump. (more…)

Summer Reading

Today on Tablet


Blake Eskin’s brief discussion of the Russian Jewish novelist Vasily Grossman’s epic Life and Fate and how it “draws parallels between fascism and Communism and the use of mass deportation, forced labor, and murder in both totalitarian regimes,” brought to mind Timothy Snyder’s Bloodlands, which books critic Adam Kirsch reviewed last week and which treats all the mass Nazi and Soviet killings from eastern Germany to western Russia between 1933 and 1945 as worthy of a single study.

It sounds like chilling stuff. “Never read Dostoevsky in winter,” Eskin advises, and Life and Fate may fall into the same category. But Eskin’s introduction and interview with Robert Chandler, Grossman’s foremost English translator, will tide you over until it is spring, or at least until you get your hands on Grossman’s shorter, more weather-appropriate works.


Is ECI a Typical Kristol Think Tank?

Loyalty to GOP is tested on missile treaty

Bill Kristol.(Fox News)

The New Republic has a fun article on Bill Kristol’s penchant for starting think tanks, committees, and the like. And next to the fun is a harsh conclusion: Kristol “has developed a singular talent: Cooking up conservative think tanks that churn out pseudo-intellectual arguments to serve the GOP’s immediate political interests.”

I made a similar joke about Kristol’s serial founding (without the reporting and the coherent argument and that other rigorous stuff) several months ago when he co-founded the Emergency Committee for Israel. The article brings up a question raised during the campaign season: Is ECI (and J Street, for that matter, but if J Street founder Jeremy Ben-Ami has a Kristol-esque pattern, I’m not aware of it) designed primarily to advance certain policies regarding Israel, or to help a certain American political party? (more…)

Daybreak: U.S. Gives Up on Freeze Deal

Plus Bibi slams rabbis’ ruling, and more in the news

Secretary of State Clinton yesterday.(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Image)

• The United States admitted failure in persuading Israel to an additional 90-day construction freeze to get direct talks up again and the likely futility of talks at this point. [NYT]

• Next? Possibly more “proximity talks,” that is, U.S.-mediated indirect negotiations. Administration officials are meeting with both sides this week. [Haaretz]

• A top aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas broadly questioned the United States’s ability to broker peace. [JPost]

• On the other hand, Iran scheduled further nuclear talks with world powers, to be held next month in Istanbul. [NYT]

• Prime Minister Netanyahu condemned several Israeli municipal rabbis’ rulings that Jews may only rent to other Jews (which is to say, they may not rent to Arabs). [JTA]

• Foreign Minister Lieberman’s people are starting something with Netanyahu’s people over the government’s recent endeavors to re-start Turkish diplomatic relations, possibly by apologizing, in some form, for the flotilla incident. [Haaretz]

Sundown: Turkish Parsing

Plus gross bagel snacks, homo Seinfeld-economicus, and more

Google Maps shows the area affected by the fire.(Jewish Journal)

• Turkey wants Israel to apologize for the flotilla raid; now Israel wants Turkey to acknowledge the raid was not malicious. [Haaretz]

• An Orthodox man was beat up in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, last night. It is being investigated as a potential bias crime. [WABC]

• This water slide you ride down two-by-two. [NYT]

• Bagelfuls. Kraft ought to be ashamed of itself. [Contentions]

• “Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer are ruthless people who faithfully follow the rules of classical economics, even if they violate the dictates of decorum. In one episode, Jerry barters away the intellectual-property rights to one of his sexual techniques. Where the rest of us laugh and gasp, an economist would only nod in understanding.” [Business Week]

• Did Mossad try to kill Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad when he was in Lebanon earlier this fall? They would never do anything like that! [Ynet]

The original “Eight Days of Hanukkah,” written and sung by the great and late Tuli Kupferberg.

This Is What We Look Like

Our Hanukkah party photo album


Consider this a wonderful opportunity to “like” us on Facebook.

Guy Finds Nazi, Maybe

Lawsuit could establish new class of plaintiffs


This morning, the Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot reported that an American, Mark Gould, went “undercover” in Germany to expose a previously unknown Nazi war criminal—a 97-year-old man named Bernhard Frank, a former SS officer and assistant to Gestapo head Heinrich Himmler who had allegedly processed Himmler’s orders to SS field commanders concerning the extermination of Jewish residents of the Ukraine as early as 1941.

At a press conference this morning at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square, Gould appeared with an Israeli lawyer, Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, and the writer Burton Bernstein—brother of composer Leonard—to show clips of Gould’s video interviews with Frank, in which Gould discussed his work for Himmler, and to announce the filing of a federal civil complaint (PDF) demanding damages from Frank on behalf of relatives murdered in the village of Korets as a result of the orders he had signed. “He is the source,” said Gould, a boyish 43-year-old with a curtain of shoulder-length brown hair and an air of outrage. “He didn’t go to Argentina. He was in the phonebook.” Gould’s claims were backed up by Stephen Smith, the executive director of the Shoah Institute at University of Southern California, who said in a phone interview that he had reviewed Gould’s research, and felt it was significant. “The focus until now has been on the people at the scene of the crime or people who gave the orders,” Smith explained. “He sits at the intersection.”

Then things got complicated. (more…)

Top of the Pack

How our teams fared this weekend

Tom Brady.(Elsa/Getty Images)

On Sunday, two of Tablet Magazine’s teams faced each other, and the outcome was decisive: The New York Giants crushed the Washington Redskins, at home, 31-7. If anything, the game was even less close. Without their top two receivers, Hakeem Nicks and Steve Smith, the Giants simply ran the hell out of the ball. The result was two touchdowns apiece for Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw, as the Redskins—who should have been expecting run, and whose defensive injuries were mainly to the secondary—were simply powerless against the Giants’ aging but still effective offensive line and big, strong, cold-weather backs. (more…)

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