Daybreak: Decreased Support Stateside

Plus Khamanei nixes talks with sanctions, and more in the news

Ayatollah Ali Khamanei.(-/AFP/Getty Images)

• According to a new Israel Project poll, fewer Americans than over the past few years believe Israeli is committed to peace and that the United States should support Israel. [WP]

• Imam Abdul Feisal Rauf, the man behind the Cordoba Initiative, departs this week on his third-ever State Department-sponsored trip to spread a message of goodwill and tolerance to Bahrain, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates. [WP]

• Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said there will be no nuclear talks until sanctions are lifted and the military option taken off the table. [NYT]

• The U.S. criticized a $23.1 billion contract inked between Iran and a Swiss gas giant. [JPost]

• Park51 is probably not the perfect test case for religious tolerance or much else, because its developers are extremely disorganized, and highly unlikely to raise the stated goal of $100 million. [Politico]

• Amin al-Hindi, generally known to be a prime organizer of the attack on the Israeli Olympic team in Munich, 1972, and later the Palestinian intelligence chief and a Yasser Arafat aide, died at 70. [NYT]

Sundown: Imams in Dachau To Remember

Plus Hitch is proud to be Jewish, and more

The imams and Hannah Rosenthal at Dachau.(Suhail A. Kahn/Politico)

• Despite the Anti-Defamation League’s lobbying, eight American imams traveled with U.S. anti-Semitism czar Hannah Rosenthal to Dachau and Auschwitz last week and then issued a statement strongly condemning anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial. [Politico]

• An Israeli court decided Israel was responsible for the high-profile gunfire death of a 10-year-old Palestinian whose father is a militant-turned-advocate. [AP/NYT]

Profilee Aaron David Miller predicts that building Park51 will end as well as his inviting Yasser Arafat to the Washington, D.C., Holocaust Museum 12 years ago did: Not well at all. [WP]

• Former Bush speechwriter Pete Wehner takes to Commentary’s blog to condemn “ugly and unfortunate” anti-Islamic bigotry among Park51 opponents and stresses, “we have to be very careful not to equate American Muslims with al-Qaeda and Wahhabism.” [Contentions]

• Here is what happens when “a blond, tough-talking former gun-toting Texan” gets involved in one of those quintessentially complex Israeli-Palestinian quarrels. [LAT]

• Phillip Weiss pulls a Lee Smith and implies that New York Times blogger Robert Mackey exerts significant influence over commenters, or at least attracts commenters who agree with him. [Mondoweiss]

Pegged to his new Atlantic essay on anti-Semitism, Christopher Hitchens discusses with Tablet Magazine contributing editor Jeffrey Goldberg why he was pleased to discover his Jewish heritage.

Lebanon Passes Oil Law

Seen as provocation against Israel

Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri.(Michael Totten)

For ten years, Lebanon’s parliament could not agree on a law to permit offshore oil and gas exploration due to disagreement over which companies could benefit. But yesterday, Lebanon finally passed just such a law under the leadership of Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri. What broke the impasse? “The amount of debt and Israeli greed are major concerns,” said a Berri aide. “Passing the law is a message that shows Lebanon is serious and persistent.”

The law is the latest salvo in the cold war brewing between Lebanon and Israel over offshore hydrocarbons—a war that, as Tablet Magazine Mideast columnist Lee Smith reported in June, is liable to spark a second round of the 2006 conflict between Israel and Hezbollah (and its Lebanese host). After Berri asserted in June that parts of three natural gas fields discovered off Israel’s coast extend into Lebanese waters, Israeli Interior Minister Uzi Landau, of the ultra-nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party, replied that Israel would “not hesitate to use our force and strength” to defend its offshore assets. (Israel denies that the fields lie also in Lebanese waters.)

In addition to providing yet more evidence that tensions on Israel’s northern border remain high, it is also yet more evidence—the skirmish earlier this month more as well—that the next conflict will be an Israel-versus-Lebanon, state-versus-state, affair.

Lebanon Law Allows Oil Exploration [AP/JPost]
Related: The Next Lebanon War [Tablet Magazine]
Earlier: Israeli Minister Threatens War Over Gas Fields
What Happened in the North

Hip Meets Square

What the Cordoba Initiative wasn’t ready for

Oz Sultan.(Brian Solis/Capital)

One article you should read today is Capital’s profile of Oz Sultan, the Cordoba Initiative’s social media strategist. It is a great illustration of how the Initiative was unprepared—in ways that I think alternately reflect well and poorly on it—for the onslaught of opposition it has faced over the past month. Sultan came under special scrutiny because of Park51′s irreverent Twitter feed.

A native of the New York social media scene, Sultan treated Park51’s tweetstream as a means of communication with the natives on Twitter, who’d have been able to get the “snark” without blinking, notwithstanding the fact that the tweeting was being done in the name of an institution in the thick of a overheated, international public-relations crisis.

But the positioning of these tweets also reflects the general, easy multiculturalism of Manhattan elites. Just as many private school students of the Upper East Side are already familiar with the Cordoba Initiative from any number of interfaith school field-trips, so Jews, Muslims, Christians and ethnic majorities and minorities trade an easy banter about cultural difference that might be hard for a blogger from Omaha to relate to.

Whichever intern posted the “fables” tweet returned to the well to explain that a Jewish aunt had told a lot of these sorts of parables in his or her youth; true or not, relevant or not, the explanation would likely have been unnecessary for a tweetstream with an exclusively New York audience.

And a local, hip audience is exactly what Sultan thought he was dealing with when he took the job.

Do read the whole thing.

The Education of ‘Mosque’-Tweeter Oz Sultan [Capital]
Related: @park51 [Ben Smith]
For Mosque Sponsors, Early Missteps Fueled Storm [NYT]

Palestinians Gain Rights in Lebanon

Tablet Magazine writers reported on inequities


As noted in Daybreak, a new Lebanese law grants substantial rights, particularly concerning work, to the 400,000 Palestinian refugees living in the country. (Incidentally, though the governing March 14 coalition hailed the bill’s passage, some Palestinian civil rights leaders said it did not go far enough.)

Among others, the Palestinians of Lebanon have Tablet Magazine contributor Judith Miller and contributing editor David Samuels to thank. In a mammoth (and al-Jazeera-endorsed!) report last October, they documented the poor living conditions and discriminatory policies sustained by the 4.6 million Palestinian refugees who reside in neither Gaza nor the West Bank (the majority in Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan). “After 60 years of failed wars, and failed peace,” they wrote, “it is time to put politics aside and to insist that the basic rights of the Palestinian refugees in Arab countries be respected—whether or not their children’s children return to Haifa anytime soon.”

Lebanon Gives Palestinians New Work Rights [NYT]
No Way Home: The Tragedy of the Palestinian Diaspora [Independent]
Palestinians in Lebanon Win Right to Work [The National]

Does Marc Schneier Speak for Us?

Rabbi’s infidelity said to reflect on community

Rabbi Schneier, in flagrante delicto.(Wikipedia)

Rabbi Marc Schneier, of the Hampton Synagogue and The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, had been having fairly well-publicized difficulties with his (fourth) marriage when a photo surfaced of him making out with a congregant (further rumor is he got her pregnant). Poorly done, dude.

Yet Rabbi Brad Hirschfeld makes the case that it is wrong to see this sordid incident as an embarrassment to “the Orthodox community,” as some have done:

Why should an entire community be embarrassed by the bad acts of one member, even a high-profile one who happens to be a rabbi? Would Ms. Bender suggest that when an Imam does something wrong, the entire Muslim community should be embarrassed? I hope not.

(Let’s pause and note the obvious analogy, namely, that the majority of the country currently believes that an unrelated group of Muslims should be in some way linked to a small group of deranged evil fanatics who happen to be their co-religionists.)

Hirschfeld should give us something to think about next time we blame someone for being a shanda fur die goyim: He or she is only one if we let him or her be one. Unless Hirschfeld is wrong, in which case let me just say that I am embarrassed about Rabbi Schneier’s actions, both as a Jew and as a Marc with a c.

When Rabbis Cheat, Who Is To Blame? [Beliefnet]

Today on Tablet

What is and isn’t sharia, and more


Today in Tablet Magazine, prompted by Newt Gingrich’s facile warnings of sharia-come-stateside, Mideast columnist Lee Smith offers a primer on the Islamic body of laws. Rachel Shteir profiles Randy Cohen, a.k.a. “The Ethicist,” whose new play has just debuted. The Scroll has already offered one view of the American body of laws, feel free to request more.

A Stupid Analogy

Why Park51 and East J’lem are unrelated

The planned future site of Park51.(Chris Hondros/Getty Images)

In the course of an hysterical attack on President Obama’s “bigoted” Park51 stance (yes, the president’s careful, nuanced back-tracking clearly gave him much-needed political cover with the right), Caroline B. Glick compares his “warm endorsement of the plan to build a mosque by the ruins of the World Trade Center” to his opposition to allowing Israeli Jews to build in East Jerusalem. To wit: “In the case of the Ground Zero mosque he prefers the rights of Muslims over the values of the overwhelming majority of Americans. In the case of the Palestinians, he prefers their anti-Semitic nationalism over the civil rights of Jews.”

Leaving aside the grotesque distortions (characterizing Palestinian nationalism as inherently anti-Semitic, declaring that Park51 offends American “values” based on polls), her provocation remains: Why are American Muslims’ property rights a priority for Obama, but not those of Jewish Israelis? I guess I have some explaining to do. (more…)

Daybreak: Obama Pulls Military Ties Closer

Plus Parker favors Park51, and more in the news

The two countries’ defense secretaries meeting last month.(Robert D. Ward/DoD via Getty Images)

• In terms of both aid and cooperation, the Obama administration has significantly bulked up the military relationship between the United States and Israel. [WSJ]

• Lebanon passed a law that will see the 400,000 Palestinian refugees in its borders treated like other foreigners (they previously were discriminated against), including allowing them to work non-menial jobs. [NYT]

• The former soldier who posed pictures of herself with bound Palestinian prisoners on Facebook said she did not “understand what’s wrong” with what she did; the IDF itself has condemened her. [NYT]

• Yesterday’s siege at the Turkish Embassy ended with no incident. [JTA]

• Hamas accused the Palestinian Authority of “waging war against Islam.” [JPost]

• Pulitzer Prize-winning conservative columnist Kathleen Parker says Park51 must be built:

We teach tolerance by being tolerant. We can’t insist that our freedom of speech allows us to draw cartoons or produce plays that Muslims find offensive and then demand that they be more sensitive to our feelings.

More to the point, the tolerance we urge the Muslim world to embrace as we exercise our right to free expression, and revel in the glory and the gift of irreverence, is the same we must embrace when Muslims seek to express themselves peacefully.

Nobody ever said freedom would be easy.


Sundown: Embassy Attacker Neutralized

Plus mass nudity at the Dead Sea, and more

The scene outside the Turkish Embassy in Tel Aviv.(Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images)

• The latest is that Nadim Injaz, a 32-year-old Ramallah resident, had sought asylum in the Turkish embassy after having been released from Israeli jail recently and in the past been portrayed in the West Bank as an Israeli collaborator. He carried a knife and a toy gun. He was wounded by gunfire and taken to a hospital. [Laura Rozen]

• Within a year? Maybe. Within eight days? Jeff Goldberg highly doubts Israel will attack Iran that soon, despite former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton’s suggestion. [Atlantic]

• A Jewish photographer famed for staged portraits of nude crowds wants to do a shoot at the Dead Sea to draw attention to its shrinkage. Won’t be the only thing! Ah, sorry. [Jewish Chronicle]

• The Israeli economy grew at a 4.7 percent rate last quarter, biggest in over two years. [Jewish Journal]

• In New York this Thursday? Jewcy is presenting A Film Unfinished, a documentary about the Warsaw Ghetto, at Film Forum. [Jewcy]

• Jon Stewart on Park51.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Tea Party

Rosenfels Torches Rams for 3 TDs

Jewish QB makes his case for playing-time

Sage Rosenfels against the Rams on Saturday.(Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

UPDATE: Almost immediately after I published this, Favre basically announced he is returning. I blame myself.

As the Minnesota Vikings desperately send three of their best players down to Hattiesburg, Mississippi, to find out if their presumable starting quarterback, Brett Favre, is planning on actually suiting up this year, a fight is raging among their two other quarterbacks over which will appear second on the depth chart—or, if Favre does retire, over which will start. And if the Vikings’ first preseason game yesterday is any indication, Jewish quarterback Sage Rosenfels has a real chance.

Rosenfels lit up the St. Louis Rams for three touchdowns, no interceptions, and 23 completions on 34 attempts for 310 yards in their game a few days ago. (Tarvaris Jackson, who is currently the starter, only played a few downs at the beginning.) Caveat number on is that the Rams are so dreadful it’s almost immoral. Caveat number two is that, it being the first preseason game, Rosenfels did the bulk of his work against the Rams’s second-teamers, which is basically the equivalent of decent D2 school (I exaggerate—and it’s worth nothing that Rosenfels was working with his team’s scrubs, too).

So this is exciting! Even if Favre does come back, we will likely see the 32-year-old Rosenfels taking a few snaps (unlike last season). And if Favre doesn’t—and Tablet Magazine’s official position is henceforth that he shouldn’t—then Rosenfels will genuinely be fighting for the starting job. Go Vikings?

Early: Favre’s Exit Means Rosenfels’s Rise

Shots, Possibly Hostages At Turkish Embassy

Conflicting reports from Tel Aviv

Guards outside the embassy.(Ynet)

Depending on which report you believe, a man, possibly mentally ill, not wearing clothes was shot outside the Turkish Embassy in Tel Aviv; an armed Palestinian from the West Bank has barricaded himself inside the embassy and created what a Foreign Ministry spokesperson described as “a hostage situation”; shots have been fired inside the embassy; the man inside the embassy is a Palestinian named Nadim Injaz who previously sought asylum at the British Embassy, and he has taken hostages; and the shooting outside and the hostage situation inside are two separate incidents. We’ll have more as the fog clears.

Obama’s Park51 Mistake

Guess what happens when you try to please everybody

President Obama speaking Friday night.(Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)

Unless the Park51 developers decide they will play ball with New York Gov. David Paterson (and they most recently denied reports that they are willing to move sites), the issue looks likely to fade into memory as another culture war battle, another bit of sound and fury signifying many things and leading to nothing in particular. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) prominently opposed the mosque’s building, presumably because of his tough upcoming election fight. Former Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich essentially equated Nazism and Islam, presumably to gear up for his tough upcoming primary election fight. Politics once again brings out the best in us all.

And then there is Obama. His position—speaking in favor of religious tolerance Friday night, in a way that seemed to endorse the center; then spending the rest of the weekend backtracking—was blunt: Not in the way strong opinions are blunt, but in the way heavily used razors are blunt. (more…)

Yiddishists Fear For Grade’s Papers

It’s up to the Bronx now

(Daily News)

Blame Inna. Because great Yiddish author Chaim Grade’s wife ferociously protected—some might say jealously hoarded—her husband’s unpublished work ever since he died in 1982, and left no will when she died earlier this year, his possessions are now in the hands of the Bronx Public Administrator’s office, worrying Yiddishists who hope eventually to have a look at them. “The bureaucracy of the Bronx is not full of Yiddishists,” said the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research’s Jonathan Brent (or, in the Daily News’s inimitable phrasing, “Brent kvetched”). “I’m holding my breath … praying that nothing of value has been thrown away.”

So far, according to the Bronx authorities, only non-literary material like old magazines have been removed—“schlepped,” to quote the Daily News again—from the house. Institutions like YIVO and Harvard have been asked to take a look at some point.

In Tablet Magazine, Allan Nadler remembered Grade, his former teacher.

Writing of Legendary Yiddish Author Chaim Grade Could Become Trash in Hands of Bronx Bureaucrats [Daily News]
Related: Keeper of the Flame [Tablet Magazine]
Whoppers [Tablet Magazine]

Today on Tablet

The un-Zionist religious settlers, and more


Today in Tablet Magazine, books critic Adam Kirsch reviews Gadi Taub’s new look at the most religious of West Bank settlers and their alleged corruption of Zionism. Robert Jervis considers Pakistani scientist A.Q. Khan’s illicit nuclear network and how it may have helped Iran in light of a new book from top nonproliferation expert David Albright. The Scroll is just going to hide under the bed until the religious zealots in the West Bank and Iran go away or something.

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