Today on Tablet

Auslander has a visitor, and more


Today in Tablet Magazine, columnist Shalom Auslander comes face-to-face with the implications of the Rotem Bill, to worrying (and hilarious) effect. Music columnist Alexander Gelfand profiles cellist Maya Beiser and pianist Matthew Herskowitz, both of whom are inspired by examples past and present of Jews and non-Jews living in peaceful co-existence. First they came for Auslander; will they next come for The Scroll?

Ethiopian Cabbage

This week on ‘Top Chef D.C.’


We begin this week where we left off last week: L’affaire purée. “I had no idea Ed had pea purée,” Alex Reznik, the thief and one of two Jewish cheftestants, says. This is a lie. He really is daring those karma police. “I don’t care what anyone else thinks. Now I feel good—I won the last challenge. I want to get out there, I want to cook.”

And Ed, whose purée was (probably) stolen? “I’m not angry about the pea purée, I’m just confused. Did somebody take it or throw it away? I’m perplexed.” Dude: Alex took it. And won. But he won primarily on the strength of his impeccably cooked salmon.

“When you watch Alex cook,” Kenny observes early on, “it’s like he’s throwing darts at a wall, and it doesn’t work. I think he’s probably the weakest one right now.” This we shall see. (more…)

Daybreak: U.N. Brokers Israel-Lebanon Sitdown

Plus Obama tries (again) to engage Iran, and more in the news

President Obama earlier this week.(Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)

• U.N. peacekeepers convened a rare three-way meeting with Israel and Lebanon in an effort to ratchet down tensions after Tuesday’s deadly skirmish. [WP]

• Seeing an opportunity in effective sanctions and technical delays, President Obama is again trying to engage Iran. [WP]

• A Polish court upheld Uri Brodsky’s extradition to Germany. Brodsky, an alleged Mossad agent, is accused of fraudulently procuring a German passport for one of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh’s assassins. [Haaretz]

• Diplomacy-wise, Israel and Turkey have seen far better days. Economically, they remain strong and important partners for each other. [NYT]

• A sad, panoramic sketch of the shrinking of the Dead Sea. [NYT]

• Reginald Levy, the pilot of the plane hijacked by Black September in 1972, died at 88. He received a hero’s welcome after Israeli commandos (led by Ehud Barak) stormed the plane and rescued the passengers,. [NYT]

Sundown: U.S. Accuses Lebanon of Provocation

Plus Hitch’s cancer diary, and more

Christopher Hitchens.(VF)

• After initially taking a neutral stance on yesterday’s skirmish, the U.S. State Department has condemned Lebanon’s “totally unjustified and deliberate” attack on Israeli soldiers. [Ynet]

• The Arab world’s opinion of President Obama has decreased sharply in the past year, according to a new Saban Center poll. [Laura Rozen]

• Why Israel was not behind the attempt on Ahmadinejad’s life: An argument for the Iranian president’s dialectical utility. [JPost]

• Tablet Magazine contributor Christopher Hitchens writes about his cancer and chemotherapy. [VF]

• The tastefully named Marc Jacobs is designing a new plus-size line, leading Margarita Korol to hope that “zaftig is the new black.” [Jewcy]

• James Besser reads the tea leaves and predicts that the American Jewish Congress truly is on its way out. [Political Insider]

Looking to lower your blood pressure? Onion News Network has the answer:

Overcome Stress By Visualizing It As A Greedy, Hook-Nosed Race Of Creatures

What Happened in the North

Lebanon’s government provoked deadly skirmish

An Israeli tank prunes a tree today in the same spot as yesterday.(Joseph Eid/AFP/Getty Image)

UPDATE: An earlier version of this post identified Jordan, not Lebanon, in the sub-headline. That was an error.

Yesterday morning saw the biggest and deadliest Israeli-Lebanese skirmish since the 2006 war—the death toll included two Lebanese soldiers, one Lebanese journalist, and one senior Israeli reserves officer—and 36 hours later, things are nowhere near back to normal. Notably, Hezbollah forces were not directly involved; this was between Lebanon and Israel. Also notably, Lebanon started it. (Don’t believe me? Ask Stephen Walt.) The IDF has alleged that the provocation was “planned,” presumably in an effort to distract the world from the impending results of the international probe into the 2005 Syrian-backed assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri.

Yesterday morning, Israel notified U.N. peacekeepers (UNIFIL) of the planned pruning of a cypress tree in Israeli territory but on the other side of the border fence with the aid of a crane stretching over the fence (see picture). Again, to be clear: The U.N. has reported that the tree is on the Israeli side of the Blue Line—the actual border—but on the other side of the border fence, and “Israel has every right to be on the north side of the fence” (the IDF has since occupied the zone, generally about 20 yards wide, between the fence and the border). Lebanon asked for a delay in the pruning, to which Israel agreed. All of this is run-of-the-mill: “Once a week, the army prunes bushes and trees on the border in coordination with UNIFIL, which coordinates with the Lebanese,” said an Israeli diplomatic spokesperson.

At some point, though, the Lebanese—who say the Israelis want the tree down because it is hindering their observation abilities—asserted that the tree was on Lebanese territory (Lebanon disputes parts of the U.N.-enforced Blue Line), fired warning shots, and then shot the dead Israeli commander and another Israeli soldier, who was seriously wounded. According to the IDF, the snipers aimed not at the soldiers doing the pruning but at those who appeared to be in command. Israel responded with tank artillery; Lebanon responded to that with a rocket-propelled grenade; Israel responded to that with further shelling and helicopter strikes. (more…)

Salita Stays In-Borough For Next Bout

Jewish boxer will fight in Brooklyn September 1st

Salita before his fight last December.(John Gichigi/Getty Image)

Dmitriy “Star of David” Salita, the Ukrainian-born boxer who is also studying to be an Orthodox rabbi, announced yesterday that on September 1 he will return to the ring for the first time since getting walloped by Amir Khan in a junior welterweight title bout in England last December.

And it’s going down in Brooklyn, baby: At the Oceana Hall in Brighton Beach (so expect Salita not to be the only Soviet-born Jew in attendance).

Salita, who is also promoting the four-bout card (called “Redemption”), has not announced his opponent yet, but he has disclosed that he will be moving up to the welterweight class (147 pounds) and that other local boxers, including Will Rozinskiy, a light heavyweight, will participate. The fights will be broadcast exclusively on, yes, The Jewish Channel.

Last winter, I saw Salita, and, calling out Khan, he suggested that the biased English crowd made him legitimately fearful and put him at a disadvantage in their December bout. In response, I suggested that the rematch take place in Brooklyn. Looks like we’re on our way there.

Salita Returning to Ring, Promoting Card [JTA]
Earlier: Orthodox Boxer Crushed in Title Bout
Salita Calls Out Khan to Tablet

Did Beck Regret ‘Death Camps’ Comment?

Fox denies accusation of decency

Glenn Beck.(Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Time Inc)

In the course of verbally sparring with Simon Greer and his Jewish Funds for Justice, Fox News host Glenn Beck argued that Greer’s support for such Communist policies as progressive taxation and some modicum of a social welfare state followed Nazi logic; in response to a petition against him, Beck implied that he believes the Jews killed Jesus. Greer thought this was a bit much.

According to Greer, though, so did Fox News executives, including CEO Roger Ailes. They met with Greer, agreed that Beck had crossed a line (specifically regarding the Nazi/death camps remarks), and pledged to confront him; a few days later, Greer apparently received a hand-written note from the host.

However, faced with this account, Fox acknowledged a meeting took place but denied that Ailes agreed that Beck had behaved inappropriately. “We absolutely stood behind Glenn Beck 1000%,” the spokesperson said. Aw, just when we were ready to praise you guys!

Beck’s Holocaust Comments Prompt Fox News Meeting [The Upshot]
Fox News SVP Disagrees With Account of Beck Meeting We absolutely stood behind Glenn Beck 1000% [TV Newser]
Earlier: Glenn Beck Says Jew Follows Nazi Logic
Glenn Beck Goes There

New York, America, and Jews At Their Finest

Support for Cordoba House is an affirmation of our values

Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaking yesterday.(Michael Nagle/Getty Images)

Look, I know The Scroll has felt like it’s been entirely about the Ground Zero controversy, Amar’e Stoudemire, and Clinton-Mezvinsky, and I am sorry (hey, at least we’re not one of those news outlets actually giving Brett Favre’s Hamlet-esque waffling any attention—oh, wait). I will make it up to you, with a post later today about Israel’s northern border (right after a new Clinton-Mezvinsky post, natch). But, I mean, did you read Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s speech?

In the mid-1650s, the small Jewish community living in lower Manhattan petitioned Dutch governor Peter Stuyvesant for the right to build a synagogue, and they were turned down. In 1657, when Stuyvesant also prohibited Quakers from holding meetings, a group of non-Quakers in Queens signed the Flushing Remonstrance, a petition in defense of the right of Quakers and others to freely practice their religion. It was perhaps the first formal political petition for religious freedom in the American colonies, and the organizer was thrown in jail and then banished from New Amsterdam.

In the 1700s, even as religious freedom took hold in America, Catholics in New York were effectively prohibited from practicing their religion, and priests could be arrested. Largely as a result, the first Catholic parish in New York City was not established until the 1780s, St. Peter’s on Barclay Street, which still stands just one block north of the World Trade Center site, and one block south of the proposed mosque and community center. …

On Sept. 11, 2001, thousands of first responders heroically rushed to the scene and saved tens of thousands of lives. More than 400 of those first responders did not make it out alive. In rushing into those burning buildings, not one of them asked, “What God do you pray to?” [Bloomberg's voice cracks here a little as he gets choked up.] “What beliefs do you hold?”


Today on Tablet

The Jews and their magazines, a German incident, and more


Today in Tablet Magazine, contributing editor Victor Navasky explains to new Newsweek owner Sidney Harman why it is the Jews who will be the ones who save magazines. Ze’ev Avrahami dissects an incident earlier this year in which a 16-year-old Jewish boy was beaten up in an east German town. Katie Robbins describes how she and her fiance are incorporating older and contemporary, egalitarian rituals in their upcoming wedding. The Scroll sure hopes someone saves magazines, anyway.

Amar’e Stoudemire’s Excellent Adventure

Maybe-Jewish star returns from the Holy Land


Amar’e Stoudemire, the sporting world’s most famous maybe-Jew, departed Israel yesterday after a week-long trip. The New York Knicks power forward’s Twitter feed lets us piece together his itinerary: Arrival in Jerusalem, where he hung out with “family and friends”; the necessary Dead Sea excursion, where he was “rejuvenated”; then up to Tel Aviv (“This city reminds me of Miami”—very perceptive, Amar’e, although Miami actually has more Jews); time for a work-out; and, finally, homeward-bound.

In the meantime, we learned that he may not, technically, be Jewish after all. “His mother says there’s some Jewish blood on her side, but Amar’e is just a total student of history and had been planning a trip to Israel for awhile,” his (Jewish) agent explained. “Is it possible [that he's Jewish]? Maybe. We’re going to do some research.” Um, okay.

And then there was the interview he gave in Israel (after the jump): Amar’e Stoudemire pledging to fast on Yom Kippur, abstain from bread during Pesach, and even celebrate Shabbat (he does say that his basketball schedule may require breaches of these rituals—Tamir Goodman he ain’t). Does he come off as a bit over-earnest and out of his league? You bet. Does he seem like a fool? Absolutely not. Does one sense a Knicks-inspired publicity ploy? The cynic in me wants to, but honestly I don’t think the evidence is there. (And apparently, the Knicks are weirded out by the whole thing.) Is he, ultimately, likeable? Incredibly, and I would bet anything he is more likeable to Gentiles now, too. This is honestly one of the more quietly fascinating sports stories in some time.

Really, I don’t know exactly what to say about the whole thing except that you should read Bethlehem Shoals’s take (Shoals is the pen name of one Nathaniel Friedman, and his own background is an integral part to his essay); that keeping Amar’e Stoudemire in the Tribe is just one more reason to oppose the ultra-religious zealots currently attempting to seize control of Israeli Judaism; and that, um, well, you should really watch the interview after the jump, in which Stoudemire shows off the Star of David tattoo on his left hand and in which he has the definitive statement on LeBron James’s ditching the Cleveland Cavaliers: “There maybe could’ve been ways he could have made it a little more kosher.” OMG. (more…)

Daybreak: U.N. Confirms Israeli Side

Plus the attempt on A’jad’s life, and more in the news

A U.N. staffer near the border.(Mahmoud Zayat/AFP/Getty Images)

• A United Nations peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon reported that Israeli soldiers had been in Israel when yesterday’s skirmish began. [NYT]

• IDF soldiers have since entered those “enclaves” that are in Israel proper but lie on the other side of the border fence in order to prevent further attacks. [JPost]

• Someone reportedly tried to assassinate Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, though his office is denying it. [Ynet]

• Israeli shelling of Gaza killed at least one militant. [Haaretz]

• The full Senate opened debate on Elena Kagan’s Supreme Court nomination, which is expected to pass. [NYT]

• The death earlier this week of Morrie Yohai—the inventor of the Cheez Doodle—continues to make waves in the snack industry. [NYT]

Sundown: Israeli Officer Dies in Battle

Plus Bloomberg brings it, and more

Michael Bloomberg speaking today.(Michael Nagle/Getty Images)

• A high-ranking IDF reserves officer was killed in this morning’s skirmish with Lebanon. I’ll have more on the fallout tomorrow. [Haaretz]

• “Part of being a New Yorker is living with your neighbors in mutual respect and tolerance.” My mayor, Michael Bloomberg, gave an inspiring speech at Governors Island in support of Cordoba House. [NY Daily News]

• There is another burqa ban. But this one applies to Jewish women in the Israeli town of Bet Shemesh. And it is because the burqa is thought to imply inappropriate sexuality. Very odd. [Jezebel]

• The oldest synagogue in Washington, D.C., is being moved, whole, on a flatbed truck. Also very odd. [WP]

• The New York City subway system. For Jews. [Heeb]

• Tonight, at 9 pm, the National Geographic Channel is airing an investigation into the Dead Sea Scrolls’ authorship. If you’ll be watching Shark Week instead, this backgrounder seems to have the relevant info. [National Geographic Channel]

The time: 1992. The place: The Valley. The event: Paul Rudd emceeing a very lucky young woman’s bat mitzvah.

Paul Rudd: Bat Mitzvah DJ from Jewish Forward on Vimeo.

Foxman Keeps Digging

Claims (falsely) that ADL was taken out of context


Memo to Abraham Foxman: Remember the first rule of holes. (For update on Foxman’s latest op-ed, see end of post.) He is bewildered at the “very painful” anger many have expressed concerning the Anti-Defamation League’s opposition to the Islamic center slated to be built a couple blocks from Ground Zero. Did I say “opposition”? Apparently I and everyone else misread the ADL’s statement. “We didn’t say it should be found, and we didn’t say we were opposed to it, okay?” Foxman tells The Jerusalem Post.

Actually, it’s not okay. Foxman is not telling the truth. The statement, released last Friday, reads:

But ultimately this is not a question of rights, but a question of what is right. In our judgment, building an Islamic Center in the shadow of the World Trade Center will cause some victims more pain—unnecessarily—and that is not right.

That is opposition, crystal-clear. There is no other way to read it. (more…)

Favre’s Exit Means Rosenfels’s Rise

If QB1 retires, then Jewish slinger will take snaps

Sage Rosenfels during a preseason game last year.(Scott Boehm/Getty Images)

Brett Favre, the star quarterback who won a Super Bowl with the Green Bay Packers in the ‘90s and led the Minnesota Vikings to the NFC Championship Game last season, has reportedly announced that he is retiring. Of course, Favre has tended to retire the way boxers and rappers do: Temporarily (this is Favre’s third-ever retirement announcement). On the other hand, the dude turns 41 this fall, is a grandfather, and has started a record 309 consecutive regular-season and playoff games; and on top of all that, he had ankle surgery in the offseason. So Favre’s permanent departure from football—even following one of his best seasons ever—does have the ring of plausibility. (As always, Kissing Suzy Kolber is invaluable on the will-he-or-won’t-he question.)

Meanwhile! The Vikings’ depth chart reveals that, should Favre not play (and should they not sign a random free agent in the next few weeks), Minnesota’s starting quarterback will be Tarvaris Jackson, and their immediate back-up will be Sage Rosenfels—the NFL’s only current Jewish quarterback. Last year, Rosenfels was the only member of the Vikings’ roster not to play a single down. But this season, as the second-string, he should see some action. You know, assuming Favre actually retires.

Favre Ready To Call It Quits [Minneapolis Star-Tribune]
Earlier: Vikings’ Jewish Quarter Back Got Zero Playing Time

Beinart Turning Essay Into Book

Talks to Tablet Magazine about his new project

Peter Beinart.(New America Foundation)

Former New Republic editor Peter Beinart is turning his Tumblr, Stuff Hipster Squirrels Like To Eat, into a book.

Kidding! Actually, the basis for Beinart’s new book, tentatively titled The Crisis of Liberal Zionism, is the controversial essay, “The Failure of the American Jewish Establishment,” that he published in the New York Review of Books in May. Times Books is planning a late 2011 release.

I talked to Beinart when his essay first dropped, but, intrigued by the proposed title change, I decided to call him up again.

Why the change in title? Your article focused mostly on the crisis of liberal Zionism in America. Do you expect to spend more time on the Israeli side in your book?
I think there is a crisis both in Israel and in the United States, and you can’t understand one without the other. I think a lot of the book will be about the American Jewish community. But the moral challenge only arises because liberal Zionism is in crisis in Israel. What I want to try to do is suggest how you could try to build a Zionism that will be somewhat different in Israel and in the United States, a struggle in both societies to reconcile liberal democracy and Zionism. More of the book will be about the American side, but you can’t understand the American side unless you believe liberal Zionism is in trouble. (more…)

Thank You!

Thank you for subscribing to the Tablet Magazine Daily Digest.
Please tell us about you.