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For Once, the French Don’t Surrender

Tel Aviv loses second Champions League match

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Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images(Tel Aviv goalie Vincent Enyeama makes a save.)

On the beaches of Tel Aviv nowadays, you are as likely to catch fragments of a conversation in French as in Hebrew. Restaurants along the Mediterranean softly play Chevalier. Shopkeepers, never an overtly polite species, have mastered merci. With waves and waves of French Jews crashing on Tel Aviv’s shores and flooding the town with much coveted foreign currency, the first Hebrew metropolis has become an extension of the Francophone empire.

The same, alas, is true for soccer. Playing Hapoel in Tel Aviv in the second round of the European Champions League last week, France’s Lyon treated the locals much as the French Jews on the beaches do: With a touch of bemusement, a note of compassion, and a benevolent disregard. (more…)

Unkosher Scuba

This week on ‘America’s Next Top Model’

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Esther last night.(The CW)

The latest episode is a letdown after the previous week‘s makeovers. Sure, the producers try to rev up the drama by taking the girls to Knott’s Berry Farm and have them ride the Silver Bullet roller coaster and snap their tacky souvenir photos at the bottom. But only one girl cries from fright, and even she manages to get on the ride; and merely a handful of the modeltestants, including Esther, are able to pose at the flash; and even fewer still manage to look good. Ann, winner of the past two photo challenges, looks like Gollum with the centripetal forces tugging at her features.

Kacey, who had flirted heavily with her male model last week, decides to throw a barbecue, inviting hers and the rest of the masculine mannequins to join. Instead of this being an orgy of beautiful people, though, it was more akin to a middle school dance, as though an invisible mechitza had been erected, partitioning the room between guys and gals, which probably suits Esther just fine (especially if her “sexy Jesus” model from last week, who made her feel uncomfortable and un-Jewish, was there, which I couldn’t tell from the angles). If this is how junior high dances went, then this former yeshiva girl feels better about having missed out. The failed party and a sink full of dishes are the last straws for neat freak Lexie, who confronts Kacey in front of the entire gang. “I have consistently not liked you since casting week,” she tells her. Lexie adds that Kacey needs “to be genuine.” (Of course, their hair is fake—either in color or extensions—their orthodontia is manipulated, and the photos are retouched.)

Kacey decides to poll the group individually to see if the sentiment is unanimous, which it practically is. But one of the few girls who doesn’t weigh in is Esther. I am pleased that she remains above the fray, even if, as a result, she doesn’t get a lot of screentime. Perhaps she has learned the lessons of lashon hora well while at Maimonides in Boston: You don’t talk smack about fellow reality show contestants. (more…)

The Internet Had a Bris

‘Web Wars!’: an introduction

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(Mark Alan Stamaty)

I didn’t write my post last Wednesday on The Social Network, the new movie about Facebook’s origins (which won the weekend box office), for this week’s Web Wars! series, but my take on the movie’s declaration that one of the world’s most important Websites was created by Jews self-conscious of (and perhaps trying to break free from) their Jewishness would have served as a nice preview nonetheless.

This week, writers Liel Leibovitz (today, on Web 2.0), Phil Taylor (on information warfare generally), Amy Zalman (on Israeli information warfare specifically), Mideast columnist Lee Smith (on Hezbollah’s messaging), Michael Tanji (on the Stuxnet malware), and Yossi Melman (it’s a surprise!) will explore the cultural and political implications of Jewish and Israeli use of the Internet. If you want, bookmark this page, where all the Web Wars! articles will be linked to once they are published.

As I say, the week wasn’t timed in conjunction with the Facebook movie, and it also wasn’t timed in conjunction with the revelation that Stuxnet, the computer worm that apparently targets Iran’s nuclear program, contains a line of code with the word “Myrtus”—a subtle reference to Esther, that famed Jewish subverter of Persian power. These coincidences, rather, serve to buttress the resonance of our theme.

Web Wars! [Tablet Magazine]
Web Jew.0 [Tablet Magazine]
In a Computer Worm, a Possible Biblical Clue [NYT]
Earlier: The World’s Most Powerful Jew

Today on Tablet

Eeyore on the podcast, and more

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Today in Tablet Magazine, Liel Leibovitz kicks off our special Web Wars! week with a look at how the user-empowering features of Web 2.0 makes it a fundamentally Jewish enterprise. Contributing editor David Rakoff is the guest on this week’s Vox Tablet podcast; he discusses the wisdom of pessimism. Parenting columnist Marjorie Ingall reminisces over The Adventures of K’Ton Ton, essentially the Jewish Tom Thumb. Josh Lambert’s weekly round-up of forthcoming books of interest focuses on Jews living in Muslim countries. The Scrollwill not be leaving you early this week.

Sanchez Says Jews Run Media, Is Fired

CNN host is Elders’ latest victim

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Rick Sanchez.(CNN)

I’m late to the Rich Sanchez story, because Rick Sanchez chose a day when this more explicitly Jewish-run sector of the media was observing Simchat Torah to say a stupid thing and get canned. The CNN host former CNN host told a satellite radio host late Thursday afternoon that “everybody that runs CNN is a lot like [Jon] Stewart;” this shortly after his interlocutor had noted that Stewart was a Jew and therefore, like Sanchez (who is Cuban-American), a minority, to which Sanchez had responded, “Yeah. Yeah. Very powerless people.” On Friday, CNN announced that Sanchez was “no longer with the company.”

It’s worth noting that Sanchez’s main patron at CNN, who gave him more airtime even as others called for him to get less, was the also-recently-fired Jonathan Klein—who is himself, shall we say, “a lot like Stewart.” Stewart will reportedly address the whole thing tonight: 11 pm E.S.T. on Comedy Central.

Conan O’Brien may have had the best take on the affair: “CNN’s Rick Sanchez says the Jews run CNN,” he Tweeted. “Ah, so that’s who we blame for Rick Sanchez.”

CNN Fires Rick Sanchez for Remarks in Interview [NYT]

Daybreak: Talks in Jeopardy

Plus R.I.P. Maury Allen, and more in the news

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President Abbas Saturday.(Abbas Momani/AFP/Getty Images)

• President Abbas tentatively ruled out future talks unless Prime Minister Netanyahu were to again freeze West Bank construction. [WP]

But a compromise may still be in the offing. [WSJ]

• Two IDF soldiers were convicted by an Israeli military court of using a Palestinian boy as a human shield during the 2009 Gaza conflict. [NYT]

• Syrian President Bashar Assad’s visit to Iran yesterday was almost as much indicative of complicating ties as a result of more intensive U.S. engagement as it was of a continued strong bond. [LAT]

• President Obama’s chief-of-staff, Rahm Emanuel, left the White House; he will run to be mayor of his hometown, Chicago. [JPost]

• Legendary Brooklyn-born, New York-based sportswriter Maury Allen died at 78. [NYT]

Sundown: The Plot Against Ahmadinejad

Plus R.I.P. Penn, the Jew of ‘Mad Men,’ and more

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From Bonnie and Clyde.(IMDB)

Another (and the final) extra-long Sundown in honor of another (and final) extra-short week in honor of Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah.

• The new Text/Context, which is published in a partnership between The Jewish Week and Nexbook Inc., has dropped. [Text/Context]

In a late article today, Mideast columnist Lee Smith profiles José María Aznar, the former Spanish prime minister who is now a major international actor in defending Israel. [Tablet Magazine]

• Noting that President Ahmadinejad is visiting Lebanon next month, influential columnist Aluf Benn has an idea: Kidnap him. [Haaretz]

• Arthur Penn, director of one of the most important films in American history, Bonnie and Clyde (to understand why, read this), died at 88. [NYT]

• They’re young. They’re in love. They’re Polish neo-Nazi skinheads who turned out to be Jewish and are now practicing Orthodox Jews. [JPost]

• Borat is please to explain how great and impressive Israeli coalition government function for benefit of mankind. [Haaretz]

• David Miliband, one-time foreign secretary and older brother of new Labour leader Ed, is backing away from high-profile politics in deference to his victorious sibling. [AP/NYT]

• Jewish Fiction.net. Bookmark it.

• Don Draper’s love interest on this season of Mad Men is (like in season one) a Jew. [LAT]

• Palestinian refugees living in Lebanon see their best hope for returning to the land not in a peace deal but in continued violence that eventually leads to Israel caving. [Christian Science Monitor]

• In 2000, as peace talks faltered, Yasser Arafat ordered Hamas to conduct terrorist attacks. [JPost]

• Jewish groups and U.S. museums are coming into conflict over art restitution claims, reports frequent Tablet Magazine contributor Robin Cembalest. [ARTnews]

• What is up with Jews not really drinking much alcohol? [Forward]

• There are more American Jews living in poverty than ever before. [Jewish Week]

• Why the rest of America is going kosher. [TNR’s The Book]

• A profile/interview of controversial Israeli journalist Gideon Levy. [The Independent]

The Cartoonist in the Flesh

Vanessa Davis comes to The Strand

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(Amazon.com)

Guys! Next Wednesday, October 6, at the world-famous Strand Bookstore in Manhattan, Tablet Magazine will be hosting a fun event in honor of cartoonist (and contributing editor) Vanessa Davis’ new graphic memoir, Make Me a Woman. Davis will be interviewed by parenting columnist Marjorie Ingall. 7 pm. Come one, come all!

‘Just a Small-Town Girl … ’

Your Vox Tablet preview

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(Eric Molinsky)

On Monday’s podcast (our site will be dark for Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah), host Sara Ivry and contributing editor David Rakoff discuss the merits of hewing to a negative, or at least not especially positive, outlook on life. Rakoff, you see, has a new collection of essays called Half Empty, and is not ashamed to call himself a pessimist. In the course of the interview, Sara’s oppositional joie de vivre comes into high relief:

Ban My Book—Please!

Do Jews no longer push cultural buttons?

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(Amazon.com)

Banned Book Week has come around once again, and the American Library Association has released its list of the ten most banned/challenged books of the decade. In the 1990s, Jews dominated the list: Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories series (#1), Judy Blume’s Forever (#7), Lesléa Newman’s Heather Has Two Mommies (#9), and J.D. Salinger’s Overrated in the Rye (#10). Now, Schwartz, who died in 1992, has dropped to #7, and the rest of the list is Judenfrei.

This brings about mixed emotions. I don’t like censorship. Censorship is bad. But on the other hand, the Tribe’s ability to push buttons fills me with counter-cultural pride. Apparently, Jews don’t do this anymore. Ouch.

The new list, after the jump. (more…)

Today on Tablet

Simchat Torah edition

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Today in Tablet Magazine, for Simchat Torah, which begins tomorrow night, Vanessa Davis explains (with illustration) all about Torah upkeep. Contributing Esther Schor ponders our re-starting the Torah cycle. For the new cycle, Liel Leibovitz inaugurates a new version of his Blessed Week Ever column, this week comparing a project to map a horrible slum in Nairobi, Kenya, to this week’s parsha. Roger Bennett, co-organizer of the Sukkah City project, explains what drove him. As you could expect, Simchat Torah is a holiday very near and dear to The Scroll‘s heart.

The World’s Most Powerful Jew

‘The Social Network’ and the outsider

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Jesse Eisenberg as Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network.(IMDB)

We were going to end up with something very like Facebook: The Internet and human nature would have conspired to give us the sort of Website for all-purpose social networking—for virtual living?—that Facebook is. Whatever we ended up with may even have been the product of what The Social Network, the fabulous David Fincher-directed, Aaron Sorkin-written film opening wide Friday, says Facebook was: The nuclear-fission force of one young outsider (Mark Zuckerberg) who desired to become the ultimate insider, surmounting all the barricades in front of him while flipping them a parade of birds.

But we actually ended up with Facebook. It is perhaps the dominant Website for the most people on the globe; it boasts 500 million users; the company is probably worth $33 billion. The barricades of privilege that its creator overcame were not run-of-the-mill, but the ultimate: Facebook was not created at a Harvard manqué; it was literally created at Harvard. And the outsider? He is not a random, one-type-out-of-many outsider, but the ultimate type of outsider: He is not a Jew manqué; he is literally a Jew. So is his co-founder (Eduardo Saverin), and one of his two first employees. I can’t prove this isn’t coincidental, but the circumstantial evidence is on my side. Chiefly: We were going to end up with something very like Facebook, but we actually ended up with Facebook, where everyone is the president of their own elite club of one—the Platonic embodiment of the indelibly Jewish alloy of self-hatred and striving. (more…)

Daybreak: Lieberman on a Hot Spot

Plus Sheikh Jarrah tense, and more in the news

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Lieberman speaking yesterday.(Mario Tama/Getty Images)

• Foreign Minister Lieberman’s U.N. speech contradicted Prime Minister Netanyahu in saying peace would take decades. “The prime minister told us that there are difficult politics on his side, and this is perhaps a manifestation,” said a U.S. diplomatic spokesperson. [NYT]

• Shmuel Rosner says Netanyahu should fire Lieberman, as do others, while also acknowledging he can’t. [Rosner’s Domain]

• Given an earlier court ruling, eviction notices for Arabs living in the East Jerusalem Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood threaten to come every day and topple the peace process. [LAT]

• In his first speech as British Labor Party leader, Ed Miliband traced his desire to aid society’s lower rungs to his parents’ having needed to escape the Nazis. [Haaretz]

• Former cardiologist writes pork cookbook. In Israel. Hey, it happens. [NYT]

Sundown: Bibi’s Coalition Blues

Plus Ike Davis’ amazin’ lineage, and more

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Mets first baseman Ike Davis.(NYT)

• Prime Minister Netanyahu distanced himself from Avigdor Lieberman’s speech in New York in which his right-wing foreign minister called for population transfers as part of a final resolution. [Laura Rozen]

• 63 percent of Jewish Israelis believe non-Orthodox converts ought to be considered Jews. [JTA/Jewish Journal]

• Rookie New York Mets first baseman Ike Davis’ paternal grandfather was a U.S. soldier who helped liberate a German concentration camp. His maternal grandparents survived one of those camps. [NYT]

• President Ahmadinejad will symbolically hurl a rock at Israel when he visits Lebanon next month. Be a terrible thing were said rock to ricochet off a tree branch and co fly right back at him. [JPost/Vos Iz Neias?]

• Hussein Ibish advocates an “informal compromise” to the settlement issue—which he frames as U.S.-Israeli as much as Palestinian-Israeli—that would allow for certain building but let President Abbas save some face. [Now Lebanon]

• Guess who loves Peace Now’s iPhone app that shows all the West Bank settlements? West Bank settlers! [Arutz Sheva]

See how many hip musicians you can recognize in this video of Duck Sauce’s “Barbra Streisand.” And what do we think of this Babs impersonator?

Religion Poll Bears Out Jewish Braininess

Though the atheist/agnostics have our number

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(Wikipedia)

In its write-up of the new Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life poll, the New York Times noted that, based on a sampling of over 3400 Americans, Jews are outpaced in their knowledge of world religions (and a few other matters) only by atheist/agnostics. It also noted that, of all the questions asked, the one that the lowest number of respondents answered correctly concerned the great medieval philosopher Maimonides: Only eight percent—and only 57 percent of Jews!—knew, “Was Maimonides Jewish, Catholic, Buddhist, Hindu or Mormon?” Guys: Have we got a book for you!

Some further digging into the report (which you can download in full here) reveals the Jews (and the Mormons) acquitting themselves very well, which probably has as much to do with socioeconomics as anything else. And as for those atheist/agnostics, well, who do you really think they are? (more…)

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