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Weighty House

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Today in Tablet Magazine, Vox Tablet host Sara Ivry reviews Nicole Krauss’ new bok, Great House. Like Krauss’ previous ones, it is a Great Big Novel of 20th-century Jewry, in a very appealing way. Less appealing, according to Ivry, is its unrelenting focus on hopelessness:

Great House, regrettably, lacks lightness, and the omission of any such breath is tough to endure. Characters’ monologue-like testimonies are engrossing, certainly, and full of pathos. The cast is passionate, but their emotions rarely stretch anywhere near exuberance, as if even the briefest display of something unrelated to despair would keep this from being a serious novel. Instead, Great House is sometimes strained by its seriousness … .


Heavy Lifting

Beck Accused of ‘Holocaust Revisionism’

Also, he said George Soros ‘sucks the blood from people’

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Glenn Beck in August, during his rally on the Mall. Presumably waving.(Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Glenn Beck’s segment on George Soros two nights ago—in which he alleged that the Jewish financier was a “puppet master” orchestrating a conspiracy to cripple currencies, crash economies, and bring the world under one government—may have seemed a blatant enough articulation of almost parodically classical anti-Semitism to get people in a guff. But apparently Beck does this sort of thing all the time, and the story did not get wide play. (Although new Tablet Magazine columnist Michelle Goldberg did rail against it, calling the program the “Protocols of the Elders of Soros”).

However, yesterday, on his radio show and then his second Soros segment, Beck must have tripped some wires, because prominent folks have come forth with condemnations, and I’d bet more are on the way. On radio, Beck reportedly accused Soros (a Holocaust survivor) of “helping send the Jews to the death camps,” prompting Simon Greer, of Jewish Funds for Justice (who has butted heads with Beck before), to accuse him of “Holocaust revisionism.”

Then, on Fox News, Beck quoted former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad—who famously said, “The Jews rule the world by proxy. They invented socialism, communism, human rights and democracy so that persecuting them would appear to be wrong”—as an authority on Soros’s perfidy; he also quoted someone else saying that Soros “sucks the blood from people,” perhaps the most hardy anti-Semitic trope (the German word is Blutsauger, and it was a favorite of Viennese mayor Karl Lueger, Hitler’s idol).

“It takes a cold, cold heart,” Beck also said of Soros, “to have full knowledge that what you are doing, to make a buck, is literally destroying the lives of people.” (more…)

Daybreak: Fatah and Hamas Fail on Accord

Plus Egypt and Israel cooperate to kill terrorist, and more in the news

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Happy Veterans Day.(Wikipedia)

• Hamas and Fatah, meeting in Damascus, said they could not overcome disagreements over security (Fatah will not share it in the West Bank) and had not succeeded at their own version of peace talks. [JPost]

• As for the other peace talks, the Obama administration is working frantically to try to revive them. [NYT]

• According to Scotland Yard, at least one of the bombs addressed to a Chicago-area synagogue would have blown up inflight over the American East Coast. [LAT]

• Egypt cooperated with Israel’s assassination of a terrorist in Gaza who was planning an attack on U.S. interests in the Sinai Peninsula. [Time]

• A Brooklyn rabbi was convicted yesterday of trying to extort $4 million from a Jewish-run hedge fund. [NY Post]

• The United States blocked Iran’s effort to get a seat on the board of a new U.N. group dedicated to gender equality. Our stomachs are grateful. [NYT]

Today is Veterans Day. Go hug a veteran.

Sundown: Clinton Criticizes Building

Plus the incredible, inedible foreskin, and more

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Secretary of State Clinton today.(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

• Secretary of State Clinton, set to meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu tomorrow, said new Israeli building in East Jerusalem is counterproductive.[JTA]

• A former top IDF commander revealed that Hezbollah refused Hamas’s request to launch missiles at Israel during the 2008-09 Gaza conflict. [Haaretz]

• Don’t throw away that foreskin! [The Stir]

• I want to read about Jewish Gen. Victor Krulak and drink his “Fish House Punch.” [NYT]

• Thanksgiving turkeys with the most authentic Southern street cred come from a place called … Greenberg Smoked Turkey. Of course. [NYT]

• Rahm Emanuel will probably be the next mayor of Chicago. [Chicago Business]

The trailer for the much-anticipated Turkish film Valley of the Wolves: Palestine, which concerns the flotilla, has dropped. If you are into Hamas, you will be into this.

Shyne On You Crazy Diamond

Words of wisdom from the Orthodox Israeli rapper

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Shyne.(NYTl)

Herewith, the five best quotes from Shyne, the gangsta rapper turned friend of Puff Daddy’s turned convict (he served nine years for opening fire in a nightclub) turned Orthodox Jewish Israeli hip-hop artist, whom Tablet Magazine contributor Dina Kraft profiled in the New York Times today:

5. “What I do get is boundaries. Definition and form. And that is what Shabbat is. You can’t just do whatever you want to do. You have to set limits for yourself.”

4. “That’s the past, I got so much going on. We move on.”

3. “What are the laws? I want to know the laws. I don’t want to know the leniencies. I never look for the leniencies because of all of the terrible things I’ve done.”

2. “My entire life screams that I have a Jewish neshama.”

1. “There’s nothing in the Chumash that says I can’t drive a Lamborghini

Shyne Finds Order in Orthodox Judaism in Israel [NYT]

The Biggest Jewish Party You’ll Ever Attend

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Today in Tablet Magazine, Lizzie Simon reports from last Sunday’s massive Chabad gala dinner in Red Hook, Brooklyn.

Pamela Visits Western Wall

Danny Ayalon is glad to have her

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Pamela Anderson at the Western Wall.(Yoav Ari Dudkevitch/AFP/Getty Images)

Earlier this week, Pamela Anderson, who is in town to judge and perform on the Israeli incarnation of Dancing with the Stars—which has received ample press due to the presence of a same-sex dancing partnership—visited the Western Wall, which happens to be another place where same-sex groupings are accommodated (in fact, they are strictly enforced). She approached the ancient stones, modestly dressed and draped in a headscarf to cover both her hair and famous assets. (Someone should tell her that covering her hair is halachically unnecessary since she is not a married woman, unless she and Tommy Lee have decided to give it yet another shot.) No word on whether the Baywatch star slipped a note into a crevice.

Danny Ayalon, the deputy foreign minister, rolled out the Twitter welcome mat: “Welcome @PamelaDAnderson. I am sure you will enjoy your time here.”

Pamela Anderson in Israel To ‘Seduce’ Jewish Lawmakers, Judge ‘DWTS’ [USA Today]
Earlier: Israel: A Liberal’s Paradise
Pamela Pushes Israeli Fur Ban

Zionists on Both Sides of Tenn. Mosque Debate

Evangelicals vs. Abe Foxman

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Sign at the site of the planned mosque.(WKRN-TV/Time)

Matthew Yglesias notes that among the organizations sponsoring a court challenge to the building of a mosque in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, is Proclaiming Justice to the Nations, a Christian Zionist group. “The point here is that PJTN’s views on Israel are just part of a larger worldview that casts Muslims and Islam as the enemy,” he writes.

I come not to quibble with Yglesias’s view of Christian Zionists—my view is similar, although I do think columnist Lee Smith’s more nuanced take is worth considering as well. But I want to point out that if “Post-Jewish Zionists” are the ones opposing this mosque, Jewish Zionists are the ones supporting it: The Anti-Defamation League, through its Interfaith Coalition on Mosques (established, conspicuously, after its wrongheaded stance on the lower Manhattan Islamic center), filed an amicus brief urging the court to drop the Murfreesboro suit, which the ADL called “an artificial roadblock to delay the start of this approved project and to deny the mosque’s sponsors their religious freedom.”

Just a friendly reminder, first, that Zionists whose prime motivation is anti-Muslim sentiment are the exception, not the rule; and, second, that the Anti-Defamation League is at its best when it is combating defamation.

Post-Jewish Zionism [Yglesias]
ICOM Acts Against Lawsuit Intended to Stop Tennessee Mosque [ADL]
Related: Friends in Deed [Tablet Magazine]
Earlier: My Hagee Problem—and Ours

In Beck Documentary, Soros Is ‘Puppet Master’

Fox News host alleges billionare’s global conspiracy

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Here is what Fox News host Glenn Beck said yesterday on the first installment of his two-part documentary on Jewish billionaire financier George Soros. This followed images of the Star of David; video of implicitly Holocaust-era European Jews; and the flashing of Soros quotes that express a lack of sympathy toward the Jewish people. It involved Beck pointing to a chart that alleged a conspiracy drawing various, disparate crises inward toward Soros.

I told you that there was a structure being put into place in our country, and it was designed to bring about the fundamental transformation that has been promised. Through the course of the journey of this discovery, amazingly, all paths, time after time, really led to one man: George Soros. One guy. There’s a crisis collapsing our economy—George Soros. When the progressives, the administration, look for a savior to step in and save the day—George Soros. He makes predictions, and his loyal followers make sure they come true. He’s pulled no punches about the endgame: It’s one world government, the end of America’s status as the prevailing world power. But why? Well, if you want to understand the why there, you have to ask questions, and there’s a few things you need to know about George Soros. … Eighty years ago, George Soros was born. Little did the world know then economies would collapse, currencies would become worthless, elections would be stolen, regimes would fall. And one billionaire would find himself coincidentally at the center of it all. [My bold.]

(more…)

The Problem With David Grossman

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Today in Tablet Magazine, senior writer Liel Leibovitz publishes a jeremiad accusing the Holy Trinity of Israeli left-wing novelists—David Grossman, Amos Oz, and A.B. Yehoshua—of being skilled artists whose delicate aesthetic standards correlate to more or less crippled political ones. Liel writes:

with few exceptions, the following generalization still stands: Oz and Yehoshua and Grossman tell stories of men and women who are wrecked by reality, who try to escape it but can’t, who do their best and discover that their best isn’t enough.

The same could be said about their political sensibilities. Grossman described it best. “It’s not that I think that suddenly Jews and Arabs can walk hand in hand towards the sunset,” he told me. “That’s not the case. But I think there’s a place somewhere in between the Hollywood ending and being tossed into the sea. There is nuance. And that’s where we need to go, to those places where we can have a life that is possible, where we could slowly douse the flames and control the madness, no more.” (more…)

Settlement Kerfuffle Follows the Script

Building announcement leads to U.S.-Israeli friction

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Prime Minister Netanyahu Monday at the United Nations.(Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images)

On Sunday, Vice President Biden traveled to the General Assembly in New Orleans to reassure attendees that America had Israel’s back security-wise. On Monday, Israel provocatively announced significant (though not deal-breaking) new construction in East Jerusalem. Yesterday, the top State Department spokesperson linked the announcement to the peace process, and President Obama himself argued, “This kind of activity is never helpful when it comes to peace negotiations. I’m concerned that we’re not seeing each side make the extra effort.” The whole thing is playing out exactly as it did in March: Biden visit; housing announcement; U.S. pushback. In March, Prime Minister Netanyahu retorted with the defiant declaration: “Jerusalem is not a settlement”; yesterday, Prime Minister Netanyahu retorted with the defiant declaration: … I’ll just let you guess.

The latest to-do, Aaron David Miller told me this morning, “reflects a much-diminished administration that got off on the wrong foot from the beginning.” Prior history as well as the prospects of continued Israeli-Palestinian negotiations give Netanyahu greater leverage, according to the former negotiator. The prime minister “knows that the administration believes the only way this Israeli-Palestinian problem is going to be resolved is negotiations, and so he’s convinced himself that they need him more than he needs them,” Miller said. “I don’t think he’s looking for a confrontation, but he’s willing to stand his ground.” Especially, Miller added, since we are talking about Jerusalem here: “Building in Jerusalem is as natural as breathing.” (more…)

Daybreak: The Nuclear Talks Tease

Plus federations worried about aging donor base, and more in the news

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President Ahmadinejad last month.(Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images)

• Iran will agree to new high-level talks with the West, provided the nuclear issue isn’t discussed. Which was sort of the point. [Reuters/Haaretz]

• However, the new top U.N. nuclear inspector said he was amenable to turning a more focused eye onto Syria. [WSJ]

• Speaking on U.S. cable news, Prime Minister Netanyahu cautioned that Iran wants to control the region’s oil supply. [JPost]

• Opposition parties boycotted Jordan’s parliamentary vote; the results are likely to strenghten the monarchy’s allies while increasing popular disaffection. [NYT]

• Jewish federations, gathered in New Orleans, are concerned less about the current economy and more about their long-term futures as their biggest donors age, with younger people not replacing them. [JTA]

• Famed realist painter Jack Levine died at 95. [NYT]

Sundown: Obama Condemns Settlements

Plus Weisz and Aronofsky call it quits, and more

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The formerly happy couple in September.(Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

• “That kind of activity is never helpful,” President Obama said in Indonesia of the East Jerusalem building announcement. “Each of these incremental steps can end up breaking trust.” Netanyahu sniped back. More tomorrow. [NYT]

• Political dissension and varying scandals have led to a worrying decrease in the IDF’s prestige. [WP]

• A profile of San Francisco-raised Sally Oren, the wife of the Israeli ambassador. [Washington Diplomat]

• Some important inside-Jewish-charity baseball news, as the Joint Distribution Committee and the Jewish Agency decide to beat their swords into plowshares. [The Fundermentalist]

• Actress Rachel Weisz and director Darren Aronofsky are headed for Splitsville. This somehow feels important. [Jezebel]

• Michael Goldfarb (not the former McCain adviser), whose book Emancipation is excellent, is speaking at the Manhattan JCC this week and next. [Manhattan JCC]

In case you still haven’t seen this middle school trick play …

$42M Phonily Doled Out in Reparations Claims

17 charged in Holocaust funds fraud

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Federal prosecutors today unsealed criminal charges against 17 individuals accused of stealing more than $42 million from two Holocaust reparation funds whose cash comes from the German government. According to a press release (which one site posted), among the defendants are employees of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany who allegedly approved more than 5500 fraudulent payment applications and took cuts themselves. Four defendants have already pleaded guilty; 11 arrests were made today.

The Conference, which first reported the suspected fraud in December 2009, emailed us a statement thanking the FBI and prosecutors. “We are outraged that individuals would steal money intended for survivors of history’s worst crime to enrich themselves,” said Julius Berman, the Claims Conference chairman. “It is an affront to human decency. As the victim of this complex scheme, the Claims Conference is grateful for the tremendous work of the FBI in investigating it.” (more…)

Mezuzah Pop

The Jewish Museum unveils a line of Judaica including new designs by Richard Meier

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Vienna Mezuzah, York Mezuzah, and Toledo Mezuzah, by Richard Meier(Tablet Magazine)

Last night the Jewish Museum Shop unveiled its signature line of “Modern Ceremonial Art” titled designeditionJM. The big news was the new work from two titans of design, architect Richard Meier (whose stuff Judith Matloff previewed yesterday) and industrial designer Dror Benshetrit, who both dabbled in mezuzot.

While Meier’s clearly referenced the pantheon of architecture (and mimicked his limited-edition menorah), Benshetrit brought the modern and commercial to his Alessi-forged mezuzah, which was modeled after an ancient seal. “Am I designing a Jewish item, or a traditional item?” Benshetrit asked himself when Alessi approached him for a design. This writer thinks he created a subtle and approachable wholesale item, ready for museum shops and high-end department stores everywhere. (more…)

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