Sundown: No Freeze Deal; The Freeze Deal

Plus women for peace, and more

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


• 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?

(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

(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.

Schumer Has Inside Track to Leadership

Could be first Jewish Senate Majority Leader

From left: Sens. Schumer, Reid, and Durbin.(Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

If the Democrats hang on to the Senate—and it looks more likely than not that they will, albeit by a very slim margin—then frenemies Sen. Dick Durbin (Illinois) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (New York), who are currently the second- and third-ranking Democrats, respectively, are expected to duke it out for the leadership. And, reports Politico today, Schumer is seen to have the upper hand because he has improved his abrasive reputation and spread his wealth around, and because Durbin is unusually close to the White House (come on! feel the Illinoise!)—which, after what happens this Election Day, will likely not be seen as an asset. (This is all dependent on the current Majority Leader, Sen. Harry Reid (Nevada), losing his race, as expected).

Before you get too excited, with visions of fourth-in-line-to-the-presidency dancing in your head, recall that it is not the Senate Majority Leader who ranks right after the Speaker of the House in terms of presidential succession, but rather the President Pro Tempore, which is to say, the most senior senator of the majority party. Our understanding is that Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) is not of the Tribe.

Schumer Rising for Majority Leader? [Politico]

Video Killed the Modern Orthodox Star

Esther Petrack departs ‘America’s Next Top Model’

Two Jews: Esther Petrack and Zac Posen.(The CW)

After last week’s Esther-rific episode, we get the ball rolling again with our favorite Model/ern Orthodox contestant, who discusses her foray into the bottom two last week and the advice she received from Tyra about bringing her personality more to the fore. “I need to be more pssh,” she says, making the sound I frequently hear in a Jewish learning setting when someone says something that is particularly shtark, which is a yeshivish term for something that appears particularly religious or pious. I wonder if less Jewishly learned viewers understand the true meaning of Esther’s bizarre sound effect.

From the beis midrash to the model home. The girls are in pajamas when they are visited by fashion designer and Member of the Tribe Zac Posen, who tells them that they will be walking in a runway show wearing the clothing from his new line. This all seems a little too straightforward for a program that sent the girls down a catwalk four stories up during their first challenge. What’s the catch, producers? (more…)

The Stories Jews Tell

A multicultural ‘Moth’ at the New York Public Library

Peter Hyman.(

If you were an alien visiting the human race last week and wanted to get a general idea of the concerns of American monotheists in the year 2010, you could have done worse than attended OMG: Stories of the Sacred, a reading put on by the storytelling series The Moth and the New York Public Library. The event (which you can watch here) featured six performers from the three great monotheistic faiths telling personal stories: Tablet Magazine contributor Peter Hyman, Rev. Wayne Reece, Andrew Solomon, Imam Khalid Latif, Judy Gold, and the Rev. Al Sharpton.

Of course it would be a bit dangerous for alien researchers to make broad assumptions from hearing two stories per faith, but you might make some claims nonetheless. Imam Latif, a chaplain for NYU and the NYPD, and the New York Times‘s Andrew Solomon each told secular stories about Muslims dealing with the repercussions of 9/11. Latif spoke about the pressures and resistance to pass after the attacks; Solomon bore witness to the resurrection of art, poetry, and music in Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban—but concluded with a cautionary note about how fragile that moment of hope has become. (more…)

Pamela Pushes Israeli Fur Ban

Bikinis apparently still okay

Pamela Anderson, speaking for the animals.(PETA)

One of Israel’s most hotly contested pieces of legislation just got a lot hotter: Pamela Anderson, who as a judge and guest dancer on the forthcoming season of the Israeli version of Dancing With The Stars is a prominent figure (indeed!) over there, wrote a personal letter to Minister of Religious Affairs Ya’akov Margi, asking him to support a new bill that would ban the import of fur. (The former Baywatch star and Tommy Lee spouse is a prominent PETA spokesperson.)

It’s a sensitive topic. Margi is a member of the Shas party, whose constituency is mainly Sephardic, but he has spoken out for the right of “our Ashkenazi brothers” to enjoy the fur hats and coats many ultra-Orthodox sects traditionally wear. As a result, Margi is holding up the proposed bill, which otherwise enjoyed wide support in the Knesset.

Margi himself appeared on Israeli radio yesterday and said that he hadn’t yet read Anderson’s letter, but will take it into consideration as he “solidified his understanding of the subject matter” (my translation). If Anderson’s performance in Barb Wire is any indication, Margi should solidify his understanding before Pam gets angry.

Today on Tablet

Interview with the ambassador, and more


Today in Tablet Magazine, contributing editor David Samuels interviews Maen Rashid Areikat, the Palestinian ambassador to the United States, discussing the Jews’ historical presence in modern-day Israel; the refugee issue; prospects for peace; internecine rivalry between his group, Fatah, and Hamas; and much more. In his weekly parsha column, Liel Leibovitz compares how Abraham found his wife to how we find our mates in the Internet age. The Scroll would wish you a happy Halloween, but Halloween is for pagans, and so its wishes will have to wait for Purim (but have a happy Halloween).

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