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With Blockade Eased, Where’s Shalit?

Many argue soldier should be released in return

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Noam Shalit, father of Gilad, earlier this month.(Gali Tibbon/AFP/Getty Images)

Noam Shalit—the father of Gilad, the Israeli soldier captured and held by Hamas for more than four years—is furious that the recent easing of the Gaza blockade was a quid without a quo: The quo being his son.

“Yesterday, in a confident voice and without compromise Netanyahu announced the change in policy on the Gaza siege,” Shalit said. “In other words, he announced, ‘I surrendered to international pressure that was applied to us’ and we are asking where Gilad stands in this equation. We are asking where is Gilad, our son?”

The “pro-Israel, pro-peace” group J Street—last seen calling on legislators not to sign AIPAC-endorsed letters unequivocally backing the blockade—has released a memo arguing much the same thing. “J Street reiterates its call for Shalit’s immediate and unconditional release,” it reads, “and urges Members of Congress to highlight the opportunity—and moral imperative—that the Israeli Government’s wise policy shift in Gaza creates for Shalit’s captors to reciprocate.”

Noam Shalit Slams Netanyahu Over Ease of Gaza Blockade [Haaretz]
Earlier: J Street Challenges AIPAC Over Flotilla Letter

Today on Tablet

What Syria is up to, and more

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Today in Tablet Magazine, Tony Badran tries to discern just what Syria and its President, Bashar Assad, are up to. A history of the Jews causes books critic Adam Kirsch to wonder just what the Jews’ history is. The Scroll has more presssing concerns.

Huckabee in the Holy Land

Evangelical ex-governor loves the Jews; will they love him back?

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Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee.(MikeHuckabee.com)

A New Yorker writer catches up with Mike Huckabee—the former Arkansas governor; the once and probably future Republican presidential candidate—at the Western Wall, where he and country singer Pat Boone are leading more than 100 Christian evangelicals on what is Huckabee’s 14th trip to Israel. “I think what I should do is convert,” he says. “This covers my bald spot completely.” He continues: “I have a lot of Jewish friends, and they’re kind of, like, ‘You evangelicals love Israel more than we do.’ I’m, like, ‘Do you not get it? If there weren’t a Jewish faith, there wouldn’t be a Christian faith!’”

While most of the article is a look at Huckabee as a ’12 contender and as the apotheosis of an evangelical political movement four decades in the making, it does address the phenomenon of Christian Zionism—the same thing Tablet Magazine Mideast columnist Lee Smith was pointing to when he noted that American evangelicals had proven Israel’s “unshakable ally.” A prime reason for that, of course, is that Jewish control of the Holy Land is a prerequisite for Jesus’s Second Coming … which will incidentally entail the eternal damnation of all non-Christians. Israelis are evangelicals’ useful idiots.

In the meantime, though, much of Huckabee’s rhetoric matches that of some of the Jewish right. “There’s really no such thing as a Palestinian,” The New Yorker has him saying. “That’s been a political tool to try to force land away from Israel.” Whether intentionally or not, Huckabee is setting himself up to benefit from American Jews’ increasing disenchantment with the current administration. “There’s a lot of Jewish money on the right that’s got to go someplace,” says journalist Zev Chafets, who once worked for Likud Prime Minister Menachem Begin, “especially if Obama continues to be perceived as unfriendly to Israel.” (The New Yorker doesn’t note that Chafets has himself profiled Huckabee!)

As always, the tension for many American Jews will be where to place Israel among their political priorities. For the American Likudnik, Huckabee would seem a more favorable choice than Obama. But the former governor is also the guy who refers to “the holocaust of liberalized abortion.” Faced with a Huckabee, what’s an Abe Foxman to do?

Prodigal Son [New Yorker]
Related: Friends In Deed [Tablet Magazine]

Daybreak: East J’lem Houses Will Be Razed

Plus Gaza’s isolation lessens, Israel’s grows, and more in the news

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• Jerusalem’s city government approved zoning plans for the sure-to-be-controversial destruction of 20 houses in East Jerusalem to clear space for an industrial zone and a tourist center. [NYT]

• Four Hamas-affiliated politicians rejected an Israeli demand that they leave East Jerusalem for the West Bank. [WP]

• The House will likely pass a version of Iran sanctions that is harsher than the White House hopes for. [Politico]

• The response in Gaza to the easing of the blockade can be summed up in two words: “We’ll see.” [NYT]

• Even concert cancellations have contributed to Israel’s current unprecedented feeling of isolation. [WP]

• Because former Agriprocessors head Sholom Rubashkin’s 27-year sentence was so high, it promises to deepen the case’s controversy among his Orthodox defenders. [NYT]

Sundown: Undercover Jews

Plus Franco’s complicity, and more

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Generalissimo Francisco Franco in 1969.(Wikipedia)

• The acting mayor of Amsterdam—the former mayor, Job Cohen, is currently leading his party in upcoming elections—is considering a plan to dress policemen up as Jews as a way to bait and then arrest perpetrators of anti-Semitic acts. The city apparently already dresses policemen up as old people and gay men for similar purposes. [Dutch News]

• A recently published document shows that in 1941 Spanish dictator Francisco Franco ordered underlings to create a list of 6,000 Spanish and foreign-born Jews to be handed over to the Nazis. I asked the Generalissimo for comment, but he responded with total, complete silence. [Ynet]

• Large majorities of the House and Senate have signed the AIPAC-endorsed (and J Street-challenged) letters backing Israel’s Gaza blockade. [Ben Smith]

• UC-Berkeley will soon be home to a major collection of Jewish art, music, and rare documents. [UC-Berkeley]

• Brazil, which had joined Turkey in opposing Iran sanctions in the U.N. Security Council, says now it is backing away from its more pronounced stance. [Haaretz]

• Tablet Magazine contributing editor Ben Greenman reads in Brooklyn tonight. [Greenlight Bookstore]

Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tennessee) won’t be giving Drake a run for his money as the best Jewish hip-hop act anytime soon:

Celebrity Rabbi Maybe Related to Death

Hasidic real estate maven committed suspicious suicide

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Solomon Obstfeld, an ultra-religious Bobover Hasid, jumped to his death at the Jumeirah Essex Hotel on Central Park South a couple weeks ago. Obstfeld’s death was ruled a suicide, though his family claims he had a heart attack (suicide is illegal under Jewish law). It is coming out that Obstfeld had been attempting to sell his Essex House pad for $6.5 million, and that he had entered into a disagreement over the lease to a different Essex House property with Rabbi Yishayahu Yosef Pinto, a kabbalist descended from a venerable Moroccan rabbinic family who has been something of a New York City-based rabbi to the minor stars as well as, maybe, a somewhat sketchy businessman.

Why Pinto? Because I am really mature, here’s why.

Questions Raised About Brooklyn Investor’s Suicide at Essex House [The Real Deal]

Rubashkin Gets 27 Years

Meat-packing owner, 51, was convicted of financial fraud

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The Iowa Agriprocessors plant.(Wikipedia)

Not two weeks after being cleared of a slew of child labor charges, Sholom Rubashkin, the ultra-Orthodox owner of the Agriprocessors Glatt kosher meat-packing plant in Postville, Iowa, has been sentenced to 27 years in prison for the 86 federal financial fraud charges of which he was convicted late last year. Prosecutors had requested a 25-year sentence. Rubashkin is 51.

Rubashkin Sentenced to 27 Years [JTA]
Earlier: Rubashkin Found Guilty of 86 Fraud Charges
Rubashkin Cleared of Child Labor Charges

Former Spanish PM Stands Up for Israel

Your latest Emails of Zion

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The Emails of Zion is a collection of messages from Jewish parents, uncles, aunts, grandparents, and others who are eager—often way too eager—to inform their children about issues of pressing concern to the Jewish community. Some of these emails may sound crazy, paranoid, ethnocentric, and/or racist, while others are disturbingly sane.

Forward emails from your elders to elders@tabletmag.com.

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: _______
Date: Fri, Jun 18, 2010 at 1:36 AM
Subject: Fw: If Israel Goes Down We All Go Down
To: ______, _______

Wouldn’t you and I love to see Jose Maria Aznar as our American President instead of the Marrano Moslem now actively destroying democracy, capitalism and Israel?

How much more destruction do we need before those who voted for Osama finally say “ich hub gemacht a toos” (I made a mistake voting for Obama?)

Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T
________________________________________
From: One Jerusalem
Date: Fri, 18 Jun 2010 03:57:24 +0000
To:
Subject: If Israel Goes Down We All Go Down

If Israel Goes Down We All Go Down

In a powerful article in today’s Times of London, Jose Maria Aznar, the President of Spain from 1996-2004) provides a rousing and eloquent defense of the State of Israel. Aznar also uses this opportunity to announce the launch of his new organization “Friends of Israel” composed primarily on non-Jewish Europeans and Americans. President Aznar is to be applauded for standing up for Israel, standing up for what is right.

The article is below: (more…)

Madoff’s Extra $9 Billion

Apparently a few friends have the loot

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Bernard Madoff.(Business History)

It might pay to be friends with Bernard Madoff after all. He’s apparently told fellow prisoners that he has stashed $9 billion with three people. If you’re one of them, I’ve got some spare room under my mattress.

Madoff’s Hidden Booty [NY Post]
Earlier: The Lion in Winter

Turkey Ruffles Feathers All Over

New pro-Palestinian stand births new rivalries

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(assertive)

Over the weekend, some began to realize that Turkey and its newly prominent international standing, particularly as an assertive regional power, is causing feelings of worry, resentment, and rivalry—and not just in Israel and the United States, where you would expect it.

Seemingly every day since it vocally praised (and tacitly supported) the flotilla, Turkey has been seen to be displacing several Arab states (especially Egypt) and Iran as the prime advocate for Palestinian rights. To take one example: Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad recently endorsed a plan that would see Turkey supervising Gaza crossings as part of a deal that would lift the blockade.

Two authors argue that the Arab countries and Iran have noticed: “You can get a sense of just how attractive Turkey’s leadership is among the Arab masses,” they write, “by reading the flood of recent negative articles about Ankara in the government-owned newspapers of the Arab states.” Last week, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran’s president, responded to Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan’s newly vocal anti-Israel rhetoric with his own vociferously anti-Israel speech … which you probably didn’t notice, because everyone is so focused on Turkey right now. (The authors assert that Turkey’s supplanting of Iran could actually redound to America’s benefit. Go figure.) (more…)

Today on Tablet

The mommyblog deluge, and more

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Today in Tablet Magazine, Marjorie Ingall may be our parenting columnist, but she ain’t no mommyblog reader. Josh Lambert has his weekly round-up of forthcoming and new books of note, including contributing editor Ben Greenman’s What He’s Poised To Do. And The Scroll is back at it.

East J’lem Blow Them Horns

The dread vuvuzela enters the fray

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Vuvuzela-users.(Wikipedia)

The East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah has long been ground zero for the movement to halt all Israeli building—indeed, all official Israeli presence—in East Jerusalem, and it has become most famous for its Friday protests, in which Palestinians and left-wing Jews join to draw attention to their cause.

And what’s the best way to draw attention to your cause? I think everyone who has been watching World Cup Finals matches over the past two weeks knows that: Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Yes, folks, the Sheikh Jarrah protestors have resorted to vuvuzelas, those annoying horns that have become notorious for dominating (and partially ruining) soccer viewing experiences. I hope they know that they are probably losing as many fans as they are making. (I also hope they know whose pockets they are lining!)

If you would like to keep up-to-date on the vuvuzela’s doings, you can check—what else?—its Twitter feed.

Sheikh Jarrah Protesters Hope To Draw Attention With Vuvuzelas [Ynet]
Earlier: East Jerusalem Neighborhood Encapsulates Conflict

Daybreak: Israel Lightens Blockade

Plus rumor is that Rahm’s out, and more in the news

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White House chief-of-staff Rahm Emanuel.(Win McNamee/Getty Images)

• Israeli officially established an eased land blockade that should allow many more goods into Gaza. The move received praise from several quarters, including President Obama, who announced a White House meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu on July 6. [NYT]

• Heard the rumor? It’s that Rahm Emanuel—who once harbored ambitions of being the first Jewish Speaker of the House—will leave his chief-of-staff post by the end of the year. [Telegraph]

• U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Israel’s internal probe into the flotilla lacks “international credibility.” [NYT]

• More than a dozen U.S. warships, including an aircraft carrier, and at least one Israeli ship reportedly crossed through Suez toward the Red Sea Saturday, angering many in Egypt. [Haaretz]

• This morning, Iran stopped two U.N. nuclear inspectors from entering the country. [Reuters/NYT]

• Defense Secretary Ehud Barak is in Washington, D.C., for senior-level talks, primarily about Iran. [JPost]

Oh, and it’s the longest day of the year. So enjoy that.

Sundown: Controversial Novelist Dies

Plus Turkey rising, and more

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José Saramago.(Wikipedia)

• The Nobel Prize-winning Portuguese novelist José Saramago died. He will be remembered as a great writer … and as the man who in 2002 compared Israeli actions in the West Bank to German actions at Auschwitz. [NYT]

• If it wasn’t clear enough before, the United States can definitely no longer count on Turkey backing it on major issues. [National Interest]

• Is Turkey attempting to revive its Ottoman (read: imperial) roots? [TNR]

• A profile of Elena Kagan’s family, which managed to be Jewish, left-wing, and Upper West Side, all at the same time. [NYT]

• Bollywood is making a controversial Hitler biopic. [Arts Beat]

• Indoors this weekend? Check out Executive Editor Gabriel Sanders interviewing Kai Bird, author of the memoir Crossing Mandelbaum’s Gate, on Book TV. [CSPAN]

A song about Molly Bloom. Music (and performer): Alicia Jo Rabins. Lyrics: James Joyce.

Alicia Jo Rabins sings Molly Bloom from Tablet Magazine on Vimeo.

Eric Cantor Bets on It

‘It’ being high inflation

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Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Virginia) in March.(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Item! Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Virginia)—the House Minority Whip, a rising star in his party, and the only Jewish national Republican lawmaker—has been betting against the federal government. Like, literally. Since last December, he has been an investor in an exchange fund that profits as U.S. Treasury bonds fall. But where does he fall on Israel bonds???

Eric Cantor’s Investment [Washington Wire]

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