Sundown: Cantor’s Strange Non-Bedfellow

Plus Archbishop Tutu calls for boycott, and more

Archbishop Desmond Tutu in June.(Michelly Rall/Getty Images for TIME/FORTUNE/CNN)

• The usual liberal suspects think soon-to-be House Majority Whip Eric Cantor’s plan to separate Israeli aid from other foreign aid is a dumb idea, including J Street, Democrats, and … AIPAC. [Ben Smith]

• Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his opposition to apartheid, called on a South African opera company not to perform in Israel, comparing the situation there to South Africa before reforms. [Arts Beat]

• Why the NBA’s new rule against arguing with the refs is un-Jewish. [Kaplan’s Korner]

• “Jeffrey Goldberg: animal lover.” [Jewish Journal]

• Meet the Israeli Tea Party! Because the world needed another. [JPost]

• Ron Kaplan notes that Dick Miles, the biggest ping-pong champion in American history, is a member of neither the International nor the National Jewish Hall of Fame. I smell a cause célèbre. [Kaplan’s Korner]

Igor Olshansky: You are a defensive lineman; tackling Ahmad Bradshaw is your job, so there is no need to celebrate so elaborately. Stop being a shanda and start getting your 1-5 team off the home-field schneid.

Tennessee’s Pearl Holds Onto Job, For Now

While football coach compares self to Rommel

Coach Bruce Pearl last March.(Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

University of Tennessee (and Maccabi USA) men’s basketball coach Bruce Pearl is a favorite of Tablet Magazine’s, even if he did a stupid thing. What was the stupid thing? He ran afoulknowingly, it turns out—of NCAA recruiting guidelines by making excessive calls and hosting prospective players and their families for a barbecue. His punishments have included a termination of his current contract, with him negotiating for a new one that will dock his salary $1.5 million over five years, if he gets one; a ban on off-campus recruiting for one year; and current status as an at-will employee, which means he could be fired, permanently, at any time.

The fact is, the guy screwed up. The further facts are, he is still, ethically speaking, in approximately the top, top percentile among coaches at major college sports programs, most of whom are truly horrible; he is still a mensch, who tearfully apologized and admitted wrongdoing (it is notable that Maccabi USA is supporting him); the NCAA’s rules are still insanely byzantine and designed primarily to give it maximum power; and he is still a great coach. I hope he keeps his job. (more…)

Jews and Pot

Hell, we discovered the thing

Allen Ginsberg, probably high.(Prometheus Unbound)

Today, Tablet Magazine published Rebecca Spence’s dispatch from Berkeley, California, where a group of Orthodox Jews are inspired by their religion and spirituality to sell medicinal marijuana.

And yesterday, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency published Sue Fishkoff’s dispatch from Oakland, California (the town next to Berkeley, for those who don’t know), about how most of the people who seem to be leading the fight in favor of Proposition 19, which would essentially legalize small amounts of marijuana (albeit in contravention of federal law), happen to be Jews. “Jews have a special affinity to marijuana,” says High Times columnist Ed Rosenthal. “It’s an intellectual drug, not a drug that takes you outside your senses like alcohol or opiates. And a lot of marijuana research comes out of Israel.” (Indeed, reports Fishkoff, “THC, the active hallucinogenic ingredient in cannabis, was first isolated in 1964 by Raphael Mechoulam, now a professor of medicinal chemistry at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University.”)

Bonus! Tablet Magazine contributing editor David Samuels hung out with the medicinal marijuana crowd in northern California and wrote about it for The New Yorker.

And let’s not forget that it was a Jewish guy who introduced marijuana to the Beatles.

Contact High [Tablet Magazine]
Plenty of Jews On Board with California’s Bid To Legalize Marijuana [JTA]
Related: Dr. Kush [The New Yorker]

Professor in Pa. Denies the Holocaust

A question of academic freedom, or of basic competence?


Contributing editor Mark Oppenheimer reminds us that now would be a good time to revisit the four-part series he wrote last year in Tablet Magazine about Holocaust denial, given that it has cropped up in the form of a professor at Lincoln University of Pennsylvania, a historically black college not far from Wilmington, Delaware. (more…)

Jewish Boxer May Be Played By Eminem

No, really, and in a Jerry Bruckheimer movie


Journalists have a phrase: “Burying the lede.” What does that mean? Let’s explain by way of example: Yesterday, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported that Dmitriy Salita, the Orthodox Jewish boxer, fresh off a win, will be fighting for a welterweight belt (which he lost late last year) in Manhattan in December. Headline: “Salita Promoting His Title Fight.” And most of the article is about that, until the final paragraph, which reads: “The Ukraine-born Salita is training in Detroit with Boxing Hall of Famer Emanuel Steward, who recently gave some boxing lessons to Eminem. The rapper-actor was preparing to play Salita in a Walt Disney film titled Knockout.”

Wait, what??

It’s true, Salita confirms. The film has been in the works since around 2003, he said, when Greg Alan Howard, writer of Remember the Titans, “contacted myself and my mentor Jimmy O. He was interested in my story, spent time with Jimmy and I and wrote the screenplay for it.” The real Slim Shady is indeed rumored to play Salita, and, according to Salita, also trained with Steward for the role. The movie will apparently follow Salita up to the age of 19, when the rabbi-in-training won the Golden Gloves and Sugar Ray Robinson awards. The rights have been acquired by Disney’s Jerry Bruckheimer, who has produced a few small, independent flicks like Armageddon, Pirates of the Caribbean, and The Rock. (more…)

Peres ♥ Bieber

The octogenarian president loves him some teen pop sensation

Bieber at the Staples Center earlier this week.(Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Add one more to the list of maladies burdening Shimon Peres, the 87-year-old president of Israel: Bieber fever!

Justin Bieber, to those of our readers without access to gossip blogs or tween girls, is the implausibly coiffed, underaged, pseudo-Jewish singing sensation, known for intricate pop masterpieces with titles like “Baby,” “Love Me,” and “One Less Lonely Girl.” He is also the focus of a recent campaign by the Peres Center for Peace, a nongovernmental organization dedicated to “reconciliation by and for the people of the Middle East.” And what better way to reconcile than to bring Bieber, at a reported cost of $1.5 million, to Tel Aviv, where he’s slated to give a concert next April?

“The Peres Center is thrilled to invite renowned persons and artists, to expose them to the Center’s activities and show them a different side of Israel,” a spokesperson for the Center told Haaretz‘s entertainment magazine, Mouse (translation mine). The Center stepped in after a planned Bieber concert in Israel fell through for financial reasons, and helped rally the necessary funding. Which has got to be Peres’s second most formidable accomplishment, after that business with the Oslo Accords and the Nobel Peace Prize.

Earlier: Justin Bieber, Almost Jewish

Today on Tablet

Political science, smokin’ and prayin’, and more


Today in Tablet Magazine, Mideast columnist Lee Smith argues that a newly Republican House of Representatives could give President Obama political cover to continue his Mideast policy, emphasizing settlements. Rebecca Spence reports on Orthodox Jews who have found a connection between their spirituality and marijuana (gotta love Berkeley). The Scroll has thought about praying to God, but never inhaled.

Change You Shouldn’t Believe In

Post-midterms, U.S. Israel policy likely to stay the same

House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Virginia), front and center.(Alex Wong/Getty Images)

What will be the consequences of the Republicans taking the House of Representatives and (maybe) the Senate next Tuesday when it comes to America’s Mideast policy? Not really all that much! The Jerusalem Post quotes an Israeli official: “It would be a mistake for any policy maker in Israel to think, come November 3, that because it’s a Republican Congress we’re going to have an easier or better time than we’ve had before,” he said. “Foreign policy is dictated by the White House, and Congress and the administration are going to be preoccupied with dealing with the economic situation.”

(You could argue, as Mideast columnist Lee Smith does, that a GOP Congress will give Obama more political cover to do what he wants, but that is not quite the same thing as actually altering policy.)

The one relevant concrete change a party switch will bring is to make Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Virginia)—currently the only Republican Jew in the House or the Senate (though maybe he’ll be joined by this guy?)—the House Majority Whip, or the second-highest third-highest ranking congressperson. (more…)

Daybreak: Lebanon Sliding

Plus Bill Clinton to save the day? and more in the news

President Bill Clinton.(Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

• U.S. officials worry that Hezbollah will disrupt or even overthrow Lebanon’s government as the international tribunal plans to hand down its decision concerning the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. [NYT]

• The Mideast peace process needs some new personnel, U.S. officials believe. Common names include former ambassador Martin Indyk and Bill Clinton. [Laura Rozen]

• The administration and other Western powers are trying to kick-start Iran negotiations based on the earlier fuel swap deal. [WSJ]

• According to a German university’s report, Nazi diplomats were much more complicit in the Holocaust than was believed. [AP/NYT]

• Ameer Makhoul, the Israeli Arab community leader, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to assist an enemy, contact with a foreign agent, and espionage as part of a deal for allegations that he spied for Hezbollah. [Haaretz]

• Settler advocates accused the government of instituting a “silent freeze” on construction. [JPost]

Sundown: Parties of God

Plus alleged Hezbollah spy eyes deal, and more

Pro-Makhoul protestors in May.(Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images)

• A close look at how religious-based politics are thriving in the Middle East and Iran. [NYT]

• Ameer Makhoul, the Israeli Arab community leader charged with spying for Hezbollah, may strike a plea bargain. [Haaretz]

• In which we get to meet Adam Levin, author of The Instructions. [Chicago Tribune]

• Bureaucratic red tape is preventing Israel’s nascent solar energy industry from thriving. [Fast Company]

• Israelis and non-Israeli Jews hash out what role the Diaspora has to play in determining policies related to Israeli security. [JTA]

• Rabbi arrested in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn. Maybe. DEVELOPING. [Ditmas Park Blog]

A new site explains principles of economics … through Seinfeld. Below, Jerry parses the academic definition of a reservation:

Three for the Road

How our teams fared this weekend

Steve Smith of the Giants celebrates a touchdown.(Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Last night, on Monday Night Football, the New York Giants officially ended the loudly announced hopes of the Dallas Cowboys to be the first squad to play a Super Bowl in their own stadium. With their 41-35 win, not only did they lower America’s Team’s record to 1-5 (0-3 at home!) after their bye week; on a sack, they broke star quarterback Tony Romo’s collarbone, leaving him out for a minimum of four to six weeks (after which time one imagines the 3-9 Cowboys being smart enough only to play him sparingly, if at all, lest they screw up next season, too).

The Giants played very typically: QB Eli Manning threw two early interceptions; they let their opponent, now led by journeyman back-up Rob Jon Kitna, back into the game; gave up a special teams touchdown, to speedy rookie Dez Bryant; and ultimately pulled out a win with the help of their stellar defensive front four and wide receivers Hakeem Nicks and Steve Smith, who simply must enter any discussion about the best 1-2 wide receiver combo in the NFL. I am not sure I trust the Giants, who have major holes in their defensive secondary and a habit of imploding on Coach Tom Coughlin, down the stretch; Bryant’s return TD, in particular, reeked of post-Super Bowl Giants game giveaways. But credit where it’s due: As of right now, the Giants are the best team in the National Football Conference. (more…)

The Peace Talks Are Dead

Long live the peace talks?


The easiest thing to do right now is to declare the direct peace talks, which officially are currently stalled, actually completely over barely after they began: A victim of (depending on whom you’d prefer to blame) Israel’s stubborn refusal to extend its settlement freeze; the Palestinian Authority’s unreasonable, ex post facto demand that Israel extend its settlement freeze; the United States’s focus on settlements; Prime Minister Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition; President Abbas’s status as an unpopular, rump leader; the Israeli public’s insistence on security guarantees based on their interpretation of what happened after the Gaza withdrawal; the Palestinian public’s warm feelings toward the maximalist claims of Hamas; and on and on. The Washington Post published the conventional wisdom-articulating article this Sunday, and it was convincing. You should read the whole thing; you will feel up-to-date.

And yet! To float a counter-intuitive #slatepitches, maybe, under the radar, the U.S. is still trying to cut a deal, and their efforts may yet pay off? That is the between-the-lines sense one could get from a speech Dennis Ross, a top administration Mideast adviser, gave to AIPAC yesterday. The prepared remarks mostly concerned Iran—”Iran’s own behavior over the past two years, however, has demonstrated that it prefers defiance and secrecy to transparency and peace,” Ross declared—but, toward the end, Ross had this to say about the peace process: “Frankly, this degree of coordination is unprecedented. I have participated in these types of discussions for the last 30 years, and they have never been as intense or focused, reflecting the serious cooperation that we have today with Israel.” He added, in an implicit nod to the controversial doctrine of linkage, “No one should underestimate the strategic importance of peace for Israelis, for Palestinians, and for the United States.” Don’t you think that if the talks were truly a lost cause for a good long while, a top administration point-man wouldn’t continue to play them up?

Ross Talks Iran, Israel with AIPAC [Laura Rozen]
Halt to Palestinian Talks Could Become Permanent [WP]
Earlier: Did Biden Link Israel to the Troops’ Safety?

How Jews Will Do Next Tuesday

Bennet and Sestak may come from behind to win

Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colorado) campaigns earlier this month.(John Moore/Getty Images)

Are you exhausted yet? Are you registered yet? Simchat Democracy, on which we celebrate the end of a grueling election cycle and the dawn of a new one the very next day, is only one week away.

Two weeks ago, I predicted (with Nate Silver’s indispensable aid) that of the ten Jewish Senate races, the Tribe would hold onto seats in New York, California, and Oregon while gaining a seat in Connecticut, losing two in Wisconsin and Colorado, and falling short in Arizona, New Hampshire, and Ohio. The Pennsylvania seat, which currently belongs to Democrat Arlen Specter, is already lost. But two weeks is forever in politics, and the races in Colorado and Pennsylvania (which remains Jewish-related) have become competitive. (more…)

Synod, Cardinal Question Jewish Claims

To Israel, mainly, but also to pretty much everything

Pope Benedict XVI presides over the close of the Middle East Synod on Sunday.(Fillipo Monteforte/AFP/Getty Images)

The Catholic Church’s Synod of Bishops for the Middle East, which concluded Sunday, was not expected to produce something that Israel would cheer. And its official “Message,” reports John J. Allen, Jr., does “refer to the damaging consequences of Israeli ‘occupation,’ as well as the security wall, military checkpoints, political prisoners, and efforts to alter the demographic balance of Jerusalem.” However, it also “acknowledges the ‘suffering and insecurity in which Israelis live,’” condemns anti-Semitism, and backs a two-state solution.

But there is one big problem. In reference to relations with Jews, the Message reads: “Recourse to theological and Biblical positions which use the Word of God to wrongly justify injustices is not acceptable.” And there is a bigger problem: Speaking at a press conference, Greek Melkite Archbishop Cyrille Salim Bustros—who is actually based in Newton, Massachusetts (so you would think he would have some sense of relations with Jews)—commented on that passage, saying, “We Christians cannot speak of the ‘promised land’ as an exclusive right for a privileged Jewish people. This promise was nullified by Christ. There is no longer a chosen people—all men and women of all countries have become the chosen people.” (more…)

Today on Tablet

Obama’s Jewish maybe-problem, and more


Today in Tablet Magazine, Pejman Yousefzadeh writes as a Jewish Hyde-Park-in-the-wool Chicagoan when he questions whether President Obama will be able to hold onto a substantial majority of the American Jewish vote come November 2012. Adam Kirsch reviews an exhibit at Yeshiva University of films documenting early-20th-century Jewish-American life along with a new book, edited by Nextbook Press author Ruth Wisse, containing two novellas from the Poland-born New York Jewish author Jacob Glatstein. The Scroll recognizes Yousefzadeh’s bona fides, yet asks, with Jed Bartlet, “What is it with people from Chicago that they’re so happy to have been born there? I meet so many people who can’t wait to tell me they’re from Chicago, and when I meet them, they’re living anywhere but Chicago.”

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