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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:

Hapoel Tel Aviv’s Almost-Miracle

Squad bows out of Champions League in 2-2 draw

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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

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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

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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: “Hava Nagila.”

Click here to listen to the original track for “Hava Nagila,” by Paul Toshner and Felix Benasuly, who perform together as poi43.com.

Here is the remix, by Roddy Schrock:

Diplomacy’s Femme Fatale

Today on Tablet

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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

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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

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