Rosenfels Torches Rams for 3 TDs

Jewish QB makes his case for playing-time

Sage Rosenfels against the Rams on Saturday.(Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

UPDATE: Almost immediately after I published this, Favre basically announced he is returning. I blame myself.

As the Minnesota Vikings desperately send three of their best players down to Hattiesburg, Mississippi, to find out if their presumable starting quarterback, Brett Favre, is planning on actually suiting up this year, a fight is raging among their two other quarterbacks over which will appear second on the depth chart—or, if Favre does retire, over which will start. And if the Vikings’ first preseason game yesterday is any indication, Jewish quarterback Sage Rosenfels has a real chance.

Rosenfels lit up the St. Louis Rams for three touchdowns, no interceptions, and 23 completions on 34 attempts for 310 yards in their game a few days ago. (Tarvaris Jackson, who is currently the starter, only played a few downs at the beginning.) Caveat number on is that the Rams are so dreadful it’s almost immoral. Caveat number two is that, it being the first preseason game, Rosenfels did the bulk of his work against the Rams’s second-teamers, which is basically the equivalent of decent D2 school (I exaggerate—and it’s worth nothing that Rosenfels was working with his team’s scrubs, too).

So this is exciting! Even if Favre does come back, we will likely see the 32-year-old Rosenfels taking a few snaps (unlike last season). And if Favre doesn’t—and Tablet Magazine’s official position is henceforth that he shouldn’t—then Rosenfels will genuinely be fighting for the starting job. Go Vikings?

Early: Favre’s Exit Means Rosenfels’s Rise

Shots, Possibly Hostages At Turkish Embassy

Conflicting reports from Tel Aviv

Guards outside the embassy.(Ynet)

Depending on which report you believe, a man, possibly mentally ill, not wearing clothes was shot outside the Turkish Embassy in Tel Aviv; an armed Palestinian from the West Bank has barricaded himself inside the embassy and created what a Foreign Ministry spokesperson described as “a hostage situation”; shots have been fired inside the embassy; the man inside the embassy is a Palestinian named Nadim Injaz who previously sought asylum at the British Embassy, and he has taken hostages; and the shooting outside and the hostage situation inside are two separate incidents. We’ll have more as the fog clears.

Obama’s Park51 Mistake

Guess what happens when you try to please everybody

President Obama speaking Friday night.(Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)

Unless the Park51 developers decide they will play ball with New York Gov. David Paterson (and they most recently denied reports that they are willing to move sites), the issue looks likely to fade into memory as another culture war battle, another bit of sound and fury signifying many things and leading to nothing in particular. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) prominently opposed the mosque’s building, presumably because of his tough upcoming election fight. Former Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich essentially equated Nazism and Islam, presumably to gear up for his tough upcoming primary election fight. Politics once again brings out the best in us all.

And then there is Obama. His position—speaking in favor of religious tolerance Friday night, in a way that seemed to endorse the center; then spending the rest of the weekend backtracking—was blunt: Not in the way strong opinions are blunt, but in the way heavily used razors are blunt. (more…)

Yiddishists Fear For Grade’s Papers

It’s up to the Bronx now

(Daily News)

Blame Inna. Because great Yiddish author Chaim Grade’s wife ferociously protected—some might say jealously hoarded—her husband’s unpublished work ever since he died in 1982, and left no will when she died earlier this year, his possessions are now in the hands of the Bronx Public Administrator’s office, worrying Yiddishists who hope eventually to have a look at them. “The bureaucracy of the Bronx is not full of Yiddishists,” said the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research’s Jonathan Brent (or, in the Daily News’s inimitable phrasing, “Brent kvetched”). “I’m holding my breath … praying that nothing of value has been thrown away.”

So far, according to the Bronx authorities, only non-literary material like old magazines have been removed—“schlepped,” to quote the Daily News again—from the house. Institutions like YIVO and Harvard have been asked to take a look at some point.

In Tablet Magazine, Allan Nadler remembered Grade, his former teacher.

Writing of Legendary Yiddish Author Chaim Grade Could Become Trash in Hands of Bronx Bureaucrats [Daily News]
Related: Keeper of the Flame [Tablet Magazine]
Whoppers [Tablet Magazine]

Today on Tablet

The un-Zionist religious settlers, and more


Today in Tablet Magazine, books critic Adam Kirsch reviews Gadi Taub’s new look at the most religious of West Bank settlers and their alleged corruption of Zionism. Robert Jervis considers Pakistani scientist A.Q. Khan’s illicit nuclear network and how it may have helped Iran in light of a new book from top nonproliferation expert David Albright. The Scroll is just going to hide under the bed until the religious zealots in the West Bank and Iran go away or something.

U.S. Buys Friends at Bargain Prices

Israel and Arab states share fear of Iran

A U.S.-made F-35.(Roslan Rahman/AFP/Getty Images)

In Newsweek, Tablet Magazine Mideast columnist Lee Smith argued that the United States is perfectly happy to sell sophisticated military equipment, like F-15 fighter planes, to Saudi Arabia—and Israel is perfectly happy to see the sale go through, provided the planes lack longer-range capability—because the name of the game in the region is increasingly the United States, Israel, and most Arab regimes versus Iran and its proxies Syria, Hezbollah, and Hamas. “If Israel and Saudi Arabia aren’t exactly headed toward rapprochement,” Smith wrote, “the old enmities are not what they used to be.” (Turkey, for its part, is trying in various ways to please both sides, which has led it to fail to please both the U.S. and al-Qaeda.)

All told, the Jerusalem Post reported over the weekend, military sales to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar could top an unprecedented $60 billion—which naturally doesn’t include U.S. sales to Israel, such as the just-approved nearly $3 billion deal for 20 F-35s (the world’s most advanced warplane). Little wonder that Syria may want in and Iran is nervous.

Our Proxy War in the Middle East [Newsweek]

Daybreak: Another Day on the Gaza Frontier

Plus Park51 ain’t goin’ nowhere, and more in the news

The spot near a kibbutz where two Gaza mortars landed today.(Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images)

• Clashes in southern Gaza left a Palestinian militant dead and an Israeli soldier wounded. [NYT]

• The developers behind Park51 strongly denied a thinly sourced Haaretz story reporting that they were considering moving the location of the Islamic center. [NY Post/Vos Iz Neias?]

• A former Israeli soldier has caused a firestorm after posting pictures of her with blindfolded Palestinian captives on Facebook. [NYT]

• Hawkish Bush administration official John Bolton predicted that Israel would not attack Iran’s nuclear reactor at Bushehr, which is apparently merely a few days from its own tipping point. [Haaretz]

• U.S. circumcisions have dropped steeply: Fewer than half of boys born in conventional hospitals from 2006 to 2009 received the procedure. [NYT]

• Andrew Roth, a left-wing City College boy who after 1950 plied his journalistic trade in London, died at 91. [NYT]

Sundown: Bad Bedfellows

Plus Obama says Turkish arms sales are safe, and more

The front of today’s New York Post.(Ben Smith)

• A Hamas official vaguely endorses Park51; the New York Post goes large with it. [Ben Smith]

• Obama “emphatically denied” warning Turkey that its continued pro-Palestinian activism and opposition to Iran sanctions could threaten weapons sales. [Laura Rozen]

• Where would Park51 actually be located? Opinions differ! [The Awl]

• The Movement for Progressive Judaism, a Reform outfit, asked Israeli President Shimon Peres to intervene regarding chief Sephardic rabbi Shlomo Amar’s anti-Reform invective. [Ynet]

• IHH, the Turkish charity that backed the Flotilla, praised the founding of a new, Hamas-aligned Gaza-based militant group. [JPost]

• Carl Levin, the Jewish Democratic senator from Michigan, was hit with a pie in the face by a student named Ahlam Mohsen at a Big Rapids event. [The Detroit News]


Despite Rumor, Harvard Isn’t Divesting

How your non-news sausage gets made


Harvard—which has by far the country’s biggest university endowment—apparently sold all its Israeli stocks, according to SEC filings. Rumor had it that the move was politically motivated; and even some who didn’t think it was politically motivated nonetheless think it bespeaks a larger point about … something.

Fact is, it just, kinda, doesn’t mean anything. Felix Salmon astutely noted, “The chances of this move being at all politically motivated are remote. I’m sure,” he added,

that if you looked at all endowment 13-Fs on a quarterly basis, you’d find that every quarter a pretty large number of endowments will turn out to have sold out of some small market or other. It’s just that by sheer coincidence, this time it’s the two big hot-button names, Harvard and Israel, and hence there’s lots of headlines.

Next quarter, or the one after that, a few Israeli holdings are bound to reappear in Harvard’s 13-F. I wonder whether anybody will notice that.

And actually the real explanation is even more mundane: Turns out that because of Israeli growth, Harvard no longer classifies Israel as an emerging market, but rather as a developed one, which necessitated moving the stocks out of that one part of its portfolio. “We have holdings in developed markets, including Israel, through outside managers in commingled accounts and indexes,” a Harvard Management Company spokesperson said.

There is probably a larger lesson in this, about the dangers of seizing on apparent news rapidly instead of doing your homework, but as a blog dedicated to being updated several times a day, we are going to choose to willfully ignore that.

Harvard Liquidates Israeli Stock Holdings [Ynet]
Harvard Isn’t Divesting from Israel [Felix Salomon

High Court Concurs With Taitz Fine

‘Birther Queen’ reprimanded for serial suing

Orly Taitz.(Wikipedia)

The Supreme Court has upheld a $20,000 fine a lower court judge levied against Orly Taitz, the Soviet Jewish émigré lawyer-dentist who has been at the forefront of the so-called “birther” movement, as punishment for filing lawsuits based on claims that Barack Obama is not a natural-born citizen of the United States and therefore not qualified to serve as president.

Specifically, the order came from Justice Samuel Alito—one of the Court’s six Catholics and four staunch conservatives—after Taitz asked for a review of an identical order issued by Justice Clarence Thomas, on the grounds that she thought she’d read in a book co-authored by Justice Antonin Scalia that fewer than one percent of case filings actually get read, except in Alito’s chambers, where everything gets reviewed by a clerk. “I don’t believe the Justices read a word of the pleadings,” Taitz said. Oh, and also, Alito didn’t attend a meeting with Obama before his inauguration, which makes him the only justice whose word she’ll accept. “That’s a clear conflict of interest, that’s lack of impartiality, and Alito was the only justice who didn’t attend this meeting,” Taitz went on.

You’d think that means Alito’s order would be the end of it, but Orly Taitz is not a woman who takes no for an answer, if she can help it. This is a woman who managed to get herself from Moldova to Southern California, via Israel, where she’s built what appears to be a reasonably successful dental practice and sent her children off for Ivy League educations. She’s a woman who decided to run for Secretary of State of California, as a Republican, after the current Democratic officeholder failed to de-certify Obama’s candidacy; she lost, but 368,000 Californians voted for her. She’s someone who has stuck with the birther cause even after her old ally Lou Dobbs tired of the trope, filing lawsuits on behalf of military officers who insist they cannot be deployed to Iraq because Obama is an illegitimate commander-in-chief. And now she’s managed to get herself hearing with not one but two Supreme Court justices, and she is probably not going to rest until she sees a piece of paper with Alito’s signature on it. Which means, in the end, that Orly Taitz is sort of an American hero: she proves that the system, flawed as it may be, actually does work.

‘Birther Queen’ Taitz Vows to Keep Fighting [TPM Muckraker]
Earlier: In Doubt’s Shadow

The Right’s Worst Americans

Still with the Rosenbergs?

Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.(Wikipedia)

Via Matthew Yglesias, a bunch of conservative blogs voted on and compiled a list of the 25 Worst Figures in American History. In a surprise twist, President Obama takes the number-two spot, losing out to former President Carter. Ted Kennedy, the Clintons, and Als Gore and Sharpton make the list.

There are four Jews: One of them absurd (Saul Alinsky, presumably on the theory that this barely-read minor intellectual inspired the Marxist Communist anti-American socialism of the president); two of them coherent as far as these things go (George Soros, who is indeed one of the biggest funders of Democratic causes, and Noam Chomsky, who is pretty left-wing); and one … kind of tasteless.

The Fourth Worst Figure in American History is … the Rosenbergs.

Now, look. Though my grandfather would probably roll over in his grave if he heard this, I think the Rosenbergs, though clearly victims of a miscarriage of justice (partly motivated by anti-Semitism), were probably guilty. Additionally, my sympathy for people who spy on my country is exceedingly small. However, the fact that the right wing to this day fixates on the Rosenbergs, of all the spies in our history (Benedict Arnold, Aldrich Ames, and Alger Hiss also appear on the list, although not as high), was a little shocking and disturbing to me.

Conservative Bloggers Select the 25 Worst Figures in American History [Right Wing News]

Hitchens Welcomes Your Prayers

Though he won’t be joining you

(Roger Ebert’s blog)

Upon hearing that people were praying for Christopher Hitchens, the Tablet Magazine contributor currently undergoing chemotherapy for esophageal cancer (the same illness that killed his father, which has apparently spread to his lymph nodes), I found it kind of offensive, given the tremendous time and intellectual energy Hitchens has devoted to his atheism.

I still wonder whether Page Six wasn’t trying to be snarky about the proud unbeliever Hitchens’s battle with mortality. However, Hitchens himself has clarifiedin numerous venues—that though he himself has not prayed for himself, and that reports of any deathbed conversion should be chalked up to the working of an enfeebled and unrepresentative state of his mind, he actually welcomes those who are praying for him to get well—though not those who are praying that his soul be saved by the God he does not believe exists.

Below: Tablet Magazine contributing editor Jeff Goldberg talks to Hitchens (as well as his “dearest friend,” the novelist Martin Amis).

Christopher Hitchens, Not Going Gently [NYT]
Related: Topic of Cancer [VF]
Earlier: No, Don’t Pray for Hitchens

Stanger Breaks Her Own Match

‘Millionaire’ yenta ends engagement

Patti Stanger.(Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images)

Oh, no! Patti Stanger, better known to readers of this blog as the self-appointed Millionaire Matchmaker, decided over the weekend to call it quits with her fiancé, Andy Friedman. We don’t know exactly how things went down, but on Friday afternoon, she was Tweeting lovestruck missives, and by Saturday morning she was announcing to her 42,000 followers that it was kaput. “I just ended my relationship with Andy,” La Stanger wrote, at 9:39 a.m. “It hit me really hard that I want kids in my life. You have to agree on the non-negotiables.”

Stanger, who had already pushed back the wedding date, told Life & Style that Friedman had apparently changed his mind about having kids. “Ever since our first date, he knew I wanted kids,” Stanger told the magazine. “A life without kids has no meaning to me. I think the most important job in the world is being a parent or step-parent!”

So, you know what? Good for her! She’s 49 years old, she makes her shekels selling people on the importance of finding lasting love, and she certainly has to know that, having forced even her most ardent fans to sit through dull, dull footage of her wedding planning, there will be more than a few people who harbor more than a little secret schadenfreude. This is a woman who clearly doesn’t give a damn what the rest of the world thinks about how she runs her life, instead placing the premium on her own happiness. And now, with her show shooting in New York, she knows what to do next. We quote: “You go to the fucking suburbs! You go to Westchester, you go to Long Island, you go to Jersey, you look around! Guys in Jersey buy fucking $4 million houses!”

L&S Exclusive: SPLIT! [Life & Style]
Earlier: ‘The Millionaire Matchmaker’ Comes to NYC!

Today on Tablet

A heist tale, what’s in Cordoba’s name, and more


Today in Tablet Magazine, Jon Kalish reports, on our Vox Tablet podcast, on Skipp Porteous, a former neo-Nazi hunter and converted Jew who has in years since tried to solve the only unsolved airplane hijacking. Staff writer Marc Tracy examines why the Cordoba Initiative is called that, and how different Jewish historians have used versions of medieval Spain to advance their own agendas. Parenting columnist Marjorie Ingall praises a new children’s book that kills two birds with one stone: It uses (and teaches) science to reassure short kids that all will be well. Josh Lambert has his weekly round-up of forthcoming books of note, starting with contributing editor Gal Beckerman’s look at the fight to rescue Soviet Jewry. The Scroll will try to get you through another of these August weeks.

Obama Backs Islamic Center, Sort Of

Clear on developers’ rights, less on wisdom

President Obama speaking Friday night.(Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)

As you probably heard, on Friday night, while hosting a traditional Muslim Iftar dinner, President Obama expressed his support for Park51, the Cordoba Initiative Islamic center to be built a couple blocks north of Ground Zero.

Of course—perhaps because that side of the issue polls atrociously, both nationwide and even in New York City—it didn’t take 24 hours before the walk-back began: An Obama spokesperson said the president was merely passing judgment on religious freedom in the abstract, and then Obama himself added, “I was not commenting and I will not comment on the wisdom of making the decision to put a mosque there. I was commenting very specifically on the right people have.” Not sure if that is anything we can believe in. (Though a former Bush speechwriter finds plenty.)

Republicans, meanwhile, pounced, both responsibly (“This is not about freedom of religion,” said Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, “but I do think it’s unwise to build a mosque at the site where 3,000 Americans lost their lives as the result of a terrorist attack”) and irresponsibly (ahem), even as some wonder how Obama’s predecessor—a Republican, but one who made great strides to show tolerance toward Islam—would have handled this.

Meanwhile, someone makes the right-wing case for respecting property rights. At the most, Obama probably pushed the conventional wisdom in that direction. But beyond the civil libertarian angle—the only angle, incidentally, that in my humble opinion falls within, say, the Anti-Defamation League’s purview—is it right that the center be built there? Both the left and the right have their answers.

Obama Backs Manhattan Mosque [Ben Smith]
Republicans Slam Obama Over Ground Zero Muslim Center Remarks [Haaretz]

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