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‘Beat the Jew’

A fun game for your kids

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What? Growing up, you never got together with your friends on a Friday night, deposited one, blindfolded, in the middle of the road—“The Jew,” if you will—and then tried, with your friends, to ride by in cars and capture him, all while calling yourselves “the Nazis”? No? Didn’t everyone do this?

‘Beat the Jew’ High School To Get Tolerance Education [JTA]

The Giants Win the Championshp

The Rangers will have to wait ’til next year

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Ian Kinsler fields a ball Sunday.(Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

After winning the American League pennant, our team, the Texas Rangers, lost the fifth and final game of the 2010 World Series to the San Francisco Giants last night in Arlington, Texas. The bat of Jewish second baseman Ian Kinsler, which had been so hot through the divisional series and championship series against the Tampa Bay Rays and the New York Yankees, fell quiet, but then again, so did those of his teammates: In arguably the most pitching-dominant year since 1968, the Giants’ staff, led by ace Tim Lincecum (who won Games 1 and 5), held the Giants to merely 12 runs in five games (and seven came in Game One, which they lost). Congratulations to Kinsler and the whole Rangers organization, including (apparently Jewish) general manager Jon Daniels. But most of all, congrats to the Giants for their first championship since 1954 and their first in San Francisco since forever.

Earlier: The Rangers Win the Pennant!
So Much for Our Team

Today on Tablet

A Bellow twofer, Soviet Jews, and more

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Today in Tablet Magazine, contributing editor Jonathan Wilson provides a double-whammy on the occasion of the publication of Saul Bellow’s letters: He reviews them, wallowing in “a gone world when literature was all the rage;” and he interviews Janis Bellow, the novelist’s widow, who confirms that Bellow wrote not for posterity but for the moment. Adam Kirsch praises Gal Beckerman’s history of the movement to rescue Soviet Jewry. The Scroll would remind its readers that Bellow is in one way the patron saint of Tablet Magazine and its predecessor, Nextbook.org: He once said, “We are always looking for the book it is necessary to read next.”

All We Are Saying Is Give Women a Chance

Livni pushes for female presence in peace talks

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Tzipi Livni in August.(Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images)

After Labor politicain Einat Wilf brought the issue up, Kadima head and chief opposition leader Tzipi Livni argued that, for the benefit of peace, social advancement, and perhaps adherence to a U.N. resolution, women should be more involved in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. “It is women’s right to determine their future and that of the country,” she said, “and their power is first and foremost political. The struggle is over presence in decision-making chambers.” (Last month, contributing editor David Samuels interviewed Livni in Tablet Magazine.)

Wilf forced the issue because yesterday was the tenth anniversary of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1325, which “urges Member States to ensure increased representation of women at all decision-making levels in national, regional and international institutions and mechanisms for the prevention, management, and resolution of conflict.” Of course, U.N. resolutions are not uncontroversial matters in Israel, and indeed the main group that pushes adherence to 1325, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, is a pacifist outfit that was highly critical of Israel’s conduct during the Gaza conflict. (The group’s prominence on the issue also meant that one article read, “Wilf did not mention WILPF.”)

Meanwhile, those looking for tea leaves into Israel’s confusing coalition politics will note Defense Minister and Labor leader Ehud Barak’s response to Livni: “Today there are no longer negotiations, and it is not unthinkable that when there are, we will add a woman,” he said. “In that case, I prefer Tzipi Livni and not [Likud MK] Tzipi Hotovely.”

‘Women Should Be More Involved in Peace Negotiations [JPost]
Labor MK Wants Women in Peace Talks [Arutz Sheva]
Related: Q&A: Tzipi Livni [Tablet Magazine]

Daybreak: U.S. Applies Pressure to Syrian Point

Plus Iraqi church massacre, the Tea Party (Israeli), and more in the news

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The bombed-out church.(Sabah Arar/AFP/Getty Images)

• The top-ranking U.S. diplomat for the Mideast called on Syria to join against Iran and Hezbollah’s meddling in Lebanese affairs. [WP]

• In what was also a sign of how far a once-great multicultural society has fallen, an al-Qaeda affiliate blew up a Catholic church in Baghdad, killing 58. [NYT]

• Some members of the Likud Party have adopted the strategy and even the images and slogans of the Tea Party to pressure their leader, Prime Minister Netanyahu, to “Say No To Obama” [NYT]

• In part mimicking Hamas, the Palestinian Authority paid for a mass wedding in Nablus, in a sign of improved conditions and greater autonomy in the West Bank. [NYT]

• “I think actually a third-party candidate could run the government easier than a partisan political president because the partisan political president—yeah he’s got half the votes, but he can’t get the others—whereas the guy in the middle may very well be able to get enough across the aisle.” –Mayor Michael Bloomberg, yesterday. [WP]

• There is controversy in Hollywood over the honorary Oscar French director Jean-Luc Godard is about to receive (albeit in self-imposed absentia), due to newly prominent charges of anti-Semitism. [NYT]

• Today is election day in America: We will keep you posted on certain races of interest. But in the meantime, please vote!

Sundown: No Freeze Deal; The Freeze Deal

Plus women for peace, and more

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Prime Minister Netanyahu yesterday.(Jim Hollander - pool/Getty Images))

• Prime Minister Netanyahu dismissed talk of a U.S. deal that would offer incentives for a freeze extension. [JPost]

• Yet rumor has it that the U.S. offered a deal whereby Israel would lease the Jordan Valley from the Palestinian Authority, perhaps for seven years. [Arutz Sheva]

• Israel’s housing market is booming … too much. [LAT]

• A Labor Knesset member has demanded that more women be involved in the peace process, as per one U.N. resolution. [Arutz Sheva]

• Adam Levin offers an apologia pro novel sua. [Jewcy]

• Matisyahu does Moses. [Jewlicious]

Computer issues have forestalled our weekly NFL post; please consider this The Scroll’s bye week, and enjoy this video of Donovan McNabb before he was benchable.

Cantor’s Foreign Aid ‘Trial Balloon’ Is Popped

Either that, or he never had a clue

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Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Virginia).(Wikipedia)

Last week, Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Virginia), currently the only Jewish Republican legislator, floated the idea of separating Israel’s aid from the rest of the foreign aid budget, so that the forthcoming Republican majority could more easily squash any Obama administration aid bill that funds countries which “do not share U.S. interests,” according to JTA.

Though various political players might, right now, wish to suck up to the man who is, after all, likely about to become the powerful House Majority Whip, Cantor’s idea was apparently so bad that pre-emptive sucking-up was put on hold: Instead, the “pro-Israel” community immediately worried that opposing foreign aid would buttress American isolationism, which they see as countervailing Israel’s interests; soon, none other than AIPAC itself came out against Cantor’s proposal (“A robust foreign aid budget is a strong signal of U.S. leadership around the globe”). Even as he was careful to praise Cantor’s pro-Israel bona fides, the National Jewish Democratic Council’s David A. Harris pounced on Cantor’s “disturbing policy.” As James Besser cogently explained, “The last thing those leaders want is to open up any discussion of whether Israel’s $3 billion in aid still makes sense. They like things the way they are: Automatic, buried in a bigger appropriation even if Israel’s is the biggest chunk, a political given.” (more…)

Al Qaeda’s Special Animus

Why Jews remain important players in a global struggle

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Administration counterterrorism adviser John Brennan last Friday.(Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty Images)

Whether you buy the official explanation, proffered yesterday by the Obama administration, that the two al Qaeda-planted bombs addressed to Chicago synagogues were in fact intended to blow up midflight, or whether, like Tablet Magazine’s Lee Smith in his new column, you have your doubts, there is no getting around where these packages were addressed to. Surely the Jewish connection wasn’t a coincidence. As top spy correspondent (and Tablet Magazine contributor) Yossi Melman put it, “Although Israel and Jewish targets are not the terror networks’ main focus, attacking Jews remains a guiding motivation.”

One of the targets was a small shul that specifically serves LGBT Jews. One synagogue’s Website reportedly received dozens of visits from Egypt recently. KAM Isaiah Israel, which famously is located across the street from the Obamas’ house in Hyde Park, was not one of the targets.

I do buy the official explanation of just whom exactly these bombs were supposed to kill (which is to say, airplane passengers, not Chicago synagogue attendees). So I can no longer completely agree with contributing editor Jeffrey Goldberg’s argument (which he also made before the revelation) that the bomb-making terrorists “are fundamentally annihilationist in outlook, meaning that they have as a primary goal the killing of Jews, everywhere.” It seems to me that their primary goal is killing Americans and other Westerners in sensationalistic fashion. At the same time, the addresses on the cargo do make plain their special animus. “There are many people out there who believe that al Qaeda and its fellow travelers are angry over settlements,” Goldberg continued. “They are not. They are angry over the continued existence of Jews.” This was a useful reminder.

Monsters Breeding [Tablet Magazine]
U.S. Official Says 2 Package Bombs Were Intended To Detonate ‘In Flight’ [WP]
Attacking Jews Remains a Radical Islamist Guiding Motivation [Haaretz]
Related: The Message [Tablet Magazine]

Colorado Election Could Exceed Election Day

Senator Michael Bennet continues new Jewish tradition

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Ken Buck, who is running to unseat Sen. Michael Bennet.(John Moore/Getty Images)

It’s Erev Simchat Democracy, the day before the day when we exercise our second-most important duty as citizens (after attending rallies put on by television personalities). America will be taken back and/or forward, and then it’s over for another two years, right?

Wrong! Because then comes recount season, particularly in Colorado where the Goldblog-endorsed and Jewish-descended Senator Michael Bennet trails Republican challenger Ken Buck in some polls by less than one percentage point. Imagine a fast that never ends until one of two men says it does. As the Denver Post reports, if the margin is less than half a percentage point, the recount is automatic and paid for by the state. Otherwise, either campaign can finance it for an estimated two million dollars. Pocket change!

If it comes to pass, Bennet will be continuing a new tradition of Jewish politicians winning or losing recounts, started in 2008-9 by Senator Al Franken and former Senator Norm Coleman. Remember our motto: Win or Lose, Tradition!

Earlier: Bennet, Blumenthal Take Home Wins

Jews in the Senior Chamber

How Jews Will Do Next Tuesday

Today on Tablet

Fyvush!, building in Brooklyn, and more

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Today in Tablet Magazine, you’ll want to spend some time listening to Fyvush Finkel (you’ll know him when you see/hear him) on the Vox Tablet podcast. Mark Bergen reports on the controversial plan to build publicly subsidized housing for ultra-Orthodox families in Boro Park, Brooklyn. Josh Lambert’s weekly rundown of forthcoming books of interest is Holocaust-themed. The Scroll was going to make a pun on truth-bombs, but how about not.

Where Have All The Secular Israelis Gone?

The other demographic crisis

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Ultra-Orthodox Israeli Jews protesting against Iran earlier this month.(Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images)

When you hear about the Israeli demographic crisis, your first thought is liable to go to the truism that, barring a major immigration or emigration to or from one side or the other, birth rates have predestined that at some point in the not-too-distant future there will be more Arabs than Jews living between the river and the sea, at which point Israel will cease to be both Jewish and democratic, etcetera etcetera. But have you heard of the other Israeli demographic crisis? Two articles appeared over the weekend approaching the fact that, among the Jews, the ultra-Orthodox will grow in population—their birth rate puts that of their more secular co-religionists to shame—and gain power in Israel, enacting policies (like the Rotem Bill) and shaping a culture that will be less desirable to more secular Israelis and lead them to emigrate (let’s face it, probably to Brooklyn). Here’s your data point: According to present trends, by 2040, 78 percent of Israeli elementary-schoolers will be either ultra-Orthodox or Arab. (more…)

Daybreak: Bombs Meant for Planes, not Shuls

Plus Bibi and Biden to meet, and more in the news

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We are more careful about unloading cargo today.(Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

• The Al Qaeda bombs addressed to two Chicago synagogues were probably designed to blow up in flight, rather than at their destinations. [WP]

• The Jews of Chicago are being careful now! [NYT]

• Prime Minister Netanyahu and Vice President Biden will meet in New Orleans next weekend during the Jewish Federations General Assembly. [JTA]

• President Ahmadinejad deeply cut the popular food and fuel subsidies his citizens receive. [LAT]

• Netanyahu struck back against a U.N. body that declared that Rachel’s Tomb and the Cave of the Patriarchs, which is in Bethlehem, is Palestinian and not the site of Israeli claims. [JTA]

Sundown: Bomb Plot Against Chicago Synagogues

Plus the crazy Russian Nets owner is Jewish after all (sorta), and more

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• Packages in the cargo of a flight from Yemen, which were bound for two “Jewish places of worship” in Chicago, were found to have explosives, President Obama announced. [Bloomberg]

• Iran agreed to nuclear talks, which will probably commence next month. They will be the first in over one year. [LAT]

• “In my opinion, there’s only one Judaism. There are no three Judaisms.” –Knesset Member Rotem. [Haaretz]

• BREAKING: The maternal grandmother of Mikhail Prokhorov, the billionaire Russian oligarch owner of the New Jersey Nets, was—of course—Jewish. Which means … [NYT Mag]

• The funeral of Judge Burton Roberts (the basis for the judge in Bonfire of the Vanities) turned into a celebration of the Bronx. [NYT]

• Best-selling Egyptian novelist Alaa al-Aswany protested the translation of one of his books into Hebrew, because he does not agree with Arab countries having diplomatic ties with Israel. [Arts Beat]

• “Mantle looked back at me and said ‘How in the [****] are you supposed to hit that [****]?’” Sandy Koufax had that effect on people. [Kaplan’s Korner]

Happy Halloween! If your date warns you that “he’s not like other guys,” best take him at his word.

The Dream Doctor Is In

Ever wonder what your dreams are trying to tell you?

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(Ravi Joshi/Tablet Magazine)

Jews have been in the dream business ever since Genesis.

When Nextbook Press author Rodger Kamenetz isn’t writing books, he works as a dream therapist. And in writing Burnt Books, his newly published dual biography of Franz Kafka and Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav, he found two Jewish figures who were also fascinated by dreams. As anyone who has read The Metamorphosis or The Trial could tell, Kafka frequently immersed himself in “dreamlike states” when he wrote. Rabbi Nachman also based several of his teachings on dreams. Both drew on the Jewish tradition of dreaming and dream interpretation, rooted in what Kamenetz calls, in The History of Last Night’s Dream, “the primordial dream book in the West, the book of Genesis.”

Now it is time to bring that tradition to the present. Send in your dreams, and Kamenetz will respond with his interpretation. (more…)

Fyvush Finkel Has No Use for Trayf

Your Vox Tablet preview

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(Eric Molinsky)

If you saw a picture of Fyvush Finkel, you’d probably recognize him. The 88-year-old has appeared in films directed by Sidney Lumet, Oliver Stone, and, most recently, the Coen brothers. He also played attorney Douglas Wambaugh for four years on the television show Picket Fences, for which he won an Emmy.

But Finkel is an even bigger star in the world of Yiddish theater. He is currently back on that stage for a three-week run of Fyvush Finkel, Live, a musical revue, which was the perfect excuse for Vox Tablet host Sara Ivry to pay him a visit. The interview got off to a rocky start, however:

Soon, though, he and Sara became fast friends. Come back and give a listen Monday. It’s probably the most charming conversation you’ll hear during election week.

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