Daybreak: Aid to Lebanon Threatened

Plus Barak and Bibi compete with commissions, and more in the news


• Powerful U.S. lawmakers appear serious about halting further military aid to Lebanon in the wake of last week’s border skirmish. [WSJ]

• U.S. envoy George Mitchell is in the region to push talks. For a day. [JPost]

• Lebanon is preparing to accuse 150 people of spying for Israel and to present its case to the U.N. Security Council. [JPost]

• Israeli worries nixed the U.S. sale of a long-range missile system and certain other military toys to Saudi Arabia, though F-15 fighter planes will still change hands. [Ynet]

• In his testimony before the Turkel Commission, Defense Minister Ehud Barak demonstrated a heroic level of knowledge of the details of the military’s flotilla operation. [Haaretz]

• After U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon raised the possibility of involving the IDF in the brokered flotilla probe, Prime Minister Netanyahu threatened to back Israel out. [Arutz Sheva]

Sundown: Bibi on The Flotilla Fiasco

Plus Ashton visits Abraham, and more

Netanyahu testifying today.(Ronen Zvulun - Pool/Getty Images)

• Before Israel’s internal Turkel Commission, Prime Minister Netanyahu testified that top Turkish officials were uninterested in cooperating to stop the Gaza Flotilla. [NYT]

• Ashton Kutcher traveled to the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron, drawing the ire of the left-wing blogosphere. He was in the area as a guest of the Kabbalah Center of Tel Aviv, drawing the ire of everyone else. [Promised Land]

• Britain’s chief rabbi said he was “dismayed” by Prime Minister David Cameron’s comparison of Gaza to “a prison camp” in front of a group of Turkish businessmen. [JPost]

• Thomas Friedman encourages “constructive criticism” of Israel that does not shirk from holding it accountable while recognizing the realities of its regional context. [NYT]

• An important rabbi in the Religious Zionist movement banned overdrawing from bank accounts, something to do with not collecting interest. Plus you know they always get you with those fine-print fees. [Ynet]

• Vox Tablet interlocutor Francine Prose calls Hans Keilson a “genius” and his two reissued novels “masterpieces.” (Adam Kirsch reviewed them last week.) [NYT Book Review]

Today is the 15th anniversary of Jerry Garcia’s death.

‘Mazel Tov to A-Rod!’

Your inevitable fake Amar’e Twitter feed


The First Law of Twitter Dynamics states that any authentic celebrity Twitter feed produces an equal and opposite parody Twitter feed. And so Amar’e Stoudemire’s @Amareisreal—which he used to document his recent sojourn in the Holy Land—has in its way given birth to @Amareisntreal. I don’t want to spoil it for you; it’s well done enough (and short enough) that you should give it a quick read.

Earlier: Amar’e Stoudemire’s Excellent Adventure

Why Not To Name Your Child After Hitler

And the long, broken tradition of Jewish Adolphs

Harpo Marx.(Wikipedia)

Here is a tip, based on the recent experience of New Jersey couple Heath and Deborah Campbell: If you name your child Adolf Hitler, the authorities will take him away from you. Here is a further tip: If you would like to name your child Adolf Hitler and would not like the authorities to find out and take him away from you, do not ask the local supermarket to make a birthday cake with his full name on it.

Incidentally, one of Hitler’s more overlooked crimes (justifiably, sure) is that he turned a perfectly good German first name into something unacceptable. Jews named Adolph (apparently they tended to choose the “-ph” over the “-f”?) included such luminaries as Adolph Ochs, who bought the New York Times and whose Sulzberger family owns the paper to this day; Adolph Gottlieb, a top abstractionist painter; and Adolph Marx, known to you and me as Harpo. Reports of Adolf Eichmann’s Jewishness, on the other hand, are greatly exaggerated.

N.J. Parents Lose Custody of Adolf Hitler [JTA]

Cantor Moves Against Lebanon Aid

Top Jewish GOPer cites last week’s incident

Lebanese soldiers last week.(Ali Diya/AFP/Getty Images)

Prompted by last week’s Lebanon-provoked skirmish, which left dead two Lebanese soldiers, a Lebanese journalist, and an Israeli reserves officer, Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Virginia), the second-ranking Republican in the House of Representatives and the only Jewish Republican federal lawmaker, announced that he will seek to block $100 million in planned U.S. funding to the Lebanese Armed Forces. Noting the $720 million in military aid since 2006, Cantor said, “The days of ignoring the LAF’s provocations against Israel and protection of Hezbollah in Southern Lebanon are over. Lebanon cannot have it both ways.”

Last week, in Tablet Magazine, Maariv columnist Yoav Fromer made much the same argument: That the “calculated risk” of U.S. military aid to Lebanon—it is intended to shore up the central government, bring stability to the tenuous multiethnic nation, and tamp down Hezbollah’s influence—is being used against Israel. “About 60 percent of the Lebanese army and a third of its officer corps are Shiites,” Fromer wrote,

whose communal champion is Hezbollah. In case of another Hezbollah war with Israel—an ever-increasing possibility—it seems highly improbable that thousands of Shiite soldiers deployed throughout southern Lebanon and well equipped with brand-new U.S. weapons will sit still, as U.S. policymakers have assumed. Instead, what Tuesday’s events suggest is that they will pick up their U.S. weapons, and turn them against one of the closest U.S. allies.

Congressman Cantor Backs Halt to U.S. Military Aid to Lebanon [Arutz Sheva]
Earlier: What Happened in the North

Zakaria Returns ADL Award in Protest

Plus Muslims in the DoD, under the bed, and perhaps elsewhere

Fareed Zakaria.(Wikipedia)

The Cordoba House news over the weekend (besides the Times report that it is far from the only mosque drawing opposition in the country) was that, prompted by the mosque flap, Fareed Zakaria, the prominent columnist, editor, and television host who was brought up in a secular Muslim Indian family, returned a First Amendment-related award that the Anti-Defamation League had given him in 2005. “I cannot in good conscience hold onto the award or the honorarium that came with it and am returning both,” he wrote Abraham Foxman in a public letter. “I hope that it might add to the many voices that have urged you to reconsider and reverse your position on this issue.”

Generally, opponents of the ADL’s stance applauded the move and proponents tsk-tsked it—the ADL described itself as “saddened, stunned and somewhat speechless.” Andrew Silow-Carroll provides a different take: That, instead of cutting ties with the organization, Zakaria should have used the leverage he had with it (due to his award) in order to try to persuade it, from within, to change its mind.

Meanwhile, contributing editor Jeffrey Goldberg notes that we actually have far bigger fish to fry than an Islamic center near Ground Zero; there are Islamic prayer sessions in the Pentagon. How dare Muslim soldiers and officers pray in such a similarly hallowed place while going about their daily business of protecting the rest of our asses from further attacks?

CNN Host Zakaria Returns ADL Award Over Mosque [JTA/Jewish Chronicle]
Zakaria and the ADL: Mosque Madness! [Just ASC]
Muslims Infiltrate Pentagon! Judeo-Christian Civilization Collapses! [Jeffrey Goldberg]
Related: Across Nation, Mosque Projects Meet Opposition [NYT]

Today on Tablet

An urban bumpkin, Shukert reads, and more


Today in Tablet Magazine, parenting columnist Marjorie Ingall visits the age-old debate: City or suburb? In today’s Vox Tablet podcast, contributing editor Rachel Shukert reads from her new memoir, of her time in Europe during her 20s, called Everything Is Going to Be Great. As always, Josh Lambert offers his weekly preview of forthcoming books of interest. And, equally as always, The Scroll will be serving it up all day.

Engaged to the End

Tony Judt dies at 62

Tony Judt.(NYT)

Tony Judt, the brilliant left-wing public intellectual and New York University professor, died Friday evening. Born to a family of London Jews in 1948, he gained perhaps broadest fame in the final year of his life, which saw him continue to produce some of his best intellectual work as well as branch out, beautifully, into the category of first-rate memoir, all while rapidly dying of Lou Gehrig’s disease.

One imagines him most remembered for those memoirs; for his magnificent studies of mid-20th-century French intellectuals, Past Imperfect and The Burden of Responsibility; and for what was by all accounts his hefty masterpiece, 2005’s Postwar. (For my money—and for yours, too, if you are a New York Review of Books subscriber or an owner of his 2008 collection, Reappraisals—his best essay was his homage to Leszek Kolakowski, his intellectual hero.)

Additionally, Judt will be remembered as perhaps the most eloquent advocate of a so-called one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. More precisely, in an extremely buzzed-about 2003 NYRB essay, “Israel: The Alternative”, he predicted that the failure of the Oslo peace process (for which he blamed both sides), continued Israeli settlement-building, and demographic trends would lead either to ethnic cleansing or to a single state. The one-time enthusiastic Zionist had declared the Zionist dream, essentially, dead. “The very idea is an unpromising mix of realism and utopia, hardly an auspicious place to begin,” he argued of the bi-national state. “But the alternatives are far, far worse.” (more…)

Daybreak: U.S. Jews Accused of Meddling

Plus a controversial travel warning, and more in the news


• Israel’s chief rabbi strikes back at American Jews for “coercing the Israeli government” to drop the Rotem conversion bill. [NYT]

• Éminence grise columnist Jim Hoagland chastises President Obama for having formed his principles for the Mideast without first fully understanding the region. [WP]

• After the U.S. State Department warned Americans about traveling to Israel and especially Eilat following last week’s rocket attacks, Israel wants to know why there was so similar warning for Jordan, which was also hit. [JTA]

• At a secret meeting, Israeli officials warned Hamas about its planned policy of abducting West Bank settlers as short-term bargaining chips. [Haaretz]

• In a Jerusalem neighborhood, the eruv—the wire marking the Shabbat boundary—is a source of constant controversy. [LAT]

• Rabbi Bruce M. Cohen, co-founder of Interns for Peace, died at 65. [NYT]

Sundown: The ADL’s ‘Strange Relativism’

Plus Lubavitcher Rabbi Krinsky sez: ‘Go Sawx!’ and more

Go Sawx!(NYT Magazine/Len Small)

• Jesse Singal explores the Anti-Defamation League’s “strange relativism”: Namely, the fact that it is a pro-civil rights, anti-discrimination organization that turns anti-civil rights, pro-discrimination when what it perceives to be Jewish interests are at stake. [Boston Globe]

• Yehuda Krinsky, the leader of Chabad-Lubavitch movement and Newsweek’s most influential American rabbi, accuses Mayor Bloomberg of selling out his people … for adopting the Yankees over their native Red Sox. I am making none of this up. [NYT Magazine]

• Is President Obama convinced that current sanctions are working? Or does he think further engagement is crucial? Various reporters whom the president personally briefed cannot agree. [Laura Rozen]

• Condé Nast’s decision to move to lower Manhattan illustrates its despicable insensitivity to 9/11. [Jeffrey Goldberg]

• “The original Fanta was a Nazi product.” I knew there was a reason I despised that atrocious jingle. [Slate]

• In a suit brought by the Chabad movement, a U.S. federal judge ruled that Russia is illegally in possession of thousands of Jewish documents seized during the Bolshevik Revolution and Russian Civil War as well as by the Nazis and then in turn captured by the Soviets. [Moscow Times]

Andy Warhol, one of the Gentiles most commonly mistaken for a Jew, was born on this day in 1928. Here he is eating a cheeseburger.

Can You Draw This?

Then you should be our design intern

(Found in Mom's Basement)

Tablet Magazine and its parent, Nextbook Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting Jewish literature, culture, and ideas, are seeking a part-time design intern for three months beginning September 7, 2010. The intern will get hands-on experience working with fast-paced daily content in a lively magazine environment in downtown Manhattan, and will receive a paid stipend. (See some of the amazing work our current design intern has produced here!)

Working closely with the art directors, the design intern will help design, program, and produce web and print material for Tablet Magazine and The intern will also attend editorial meetings and learn the various production systems used. They will gain CMS experience (especially in WordPress), and should be fluent in social media (Facebook, Twitter, Vimeo, YouTube). A working knowledge of HTML, PHP, and Photoshop is desirable. Software fluency in Flash, InDesign, and Illustrator is encouraged. Graduate students and undergraduate juniors and seniors are welcome to apply.

Design applicants should submit a cover letter, résumé, and portfolio that includes layouts, typography, or working website URLs by August 23, 2010. All application material should be sent to

‘This Is An Artist!’

Your Vox Tablet preview

(Eric Molinsky)

On next week’s Vox Tablet podcast, writer, actress, lyricist, and Tablet Magazine contributing editor Rachel Shukert reads from her very funny and sometimes rather disturbing Everything Is Going to Be Great. Her new memoir revisits the pleasures and shames of the year or so she spent in Central Europe. In the excerpt, she describes her ill-fated romance with Berthold, a Viennese fellow twice her age with very strong views on certain artists.

Poles Bar Germans From Jailing Brodsky

But alleged Mossad agent will be extradited

The false passport for Michael Bodenheimer.(Jerusalem Post)

Uri Brodsky, the Israeli who is the only man so far arrested by Western authorities in connection with the January 19, allegedly Mossad-backed assassination of Hamas operative Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai, lost an appeal and will be extradited from Poland to Germany. Brodsky—which may or may not be his real name (in fact, a San Francisco student named Uri Brodetzki reportedly had his identity stolen)—is accused not of directly taking part in the assassination, but rather of fraudulently procuring a false passport for one of al-Mabhouh’s assassins.

Not to make light of the whole affair, or Brodsky’s situation, but there is an amusing aspect to his legal troubles. Under the terms of the Polish extradition ruling, the German government—no doubt much to its chagrin—is not permitted to charge Brodsky with anything—like, say, espionage—more serious than forgery. Moreover, the maximum penalty in Germany for forgery is a fine; Brodsky is unlikely to do jail-time even before and during any trial. Moreover, the reason the Polish courts have ruled that Brodsky cannot be tried for anti-German espionage is because spying on Germany isn’t a crime in Poland—which (this is the part I find amusing) actually makes perfect sense if you know your European history.

German Report: ‘Uri Brodsky’ To Avoid Jail [Ynet]
Suspected Mossad Agent Loses Extradition Fight Over Dubai Hit [Haaretz]
Will The Real Uri Brodsky Please Stand Up? [Tikkun Olam]
Earlier: Brodsky To Be Extradited on Lesser Charge
Related: Murder in Dubai [Tablet Magazine]

Shalala Was Detained at Ben Gurion

Former top official is vocal opponent of boycotts

Shalala in 2007.(Stephanie Kuykendal/Getty Images)

When President Clinton made her his Secretary of Health and Human Services, Donna Shalala became the first Arab-American member of a presidential cabinet. That background as well as her formidable résumé in academia—she was the chancellor of the University of Wisconsin (go Badgers!) and is currently the president of the University of Miami—gave her massive credibility when, last month, she traveled to Israel and spoke out strongly against Israeli boycotts. “Whether it’s disinvestment or a boycott against Israeli academics,” Shalala, the daughter of Maronite Lebanese, said then, “it’s inappropriate and not worthy of any educational institution.”

Given all this, maybe she should have been greeted a little more hospitably? Shalala is now claiming that, despite the fact that her host, the American Jewish Congress, had notified authorities ahead of time who she was, she was detained and questioned intensively for over two hours upon her arrival at Ben Gurion Airport last month, apparently because of her Arab last name.

It is not clear if the Israeli government has since offered an apology; certainly, Shalala is owed one.

American VIP Humiliated at Airport [JPost]
Related: ‘There Will Never Be a Boycott of Israel’ [JPost]

How To Build a $100 Million Islamic Center

Legal hurdles cleared; but where’s the money coming from?

Yesterday’s Cordoba Initiative event.(Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Left to scrapping together futile legal challenges, opponents of the Islamic center to be located near Ground Zero are turning to this query: Will it receive support from extremist organizations? Dan Senor, a former Bush administration official, informed potential financiers earlier this week that anyone who partners with Cordoba House “needs to know there is going to be a real stigma.” Even supportive groups refer to the cost. “With a $100 million price tag,” David Harris, the American Jewish Committee Director, asks, “what are the exact sources of funding?”

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf and Daisy Khan are the couple behind the American Society for Muslim Advancement (ASMA) and the Cordoba Initiative, the latter of which held a noon event yesterday flaunting its supporters, many of them Jewish. The Cordoba Initiative is not wealthy. As of 2008, according to tax files, its net assets were $18,255. ASMA has deeper pockets, with an annual intake of nearly $1 million, according to its 2009 filing [pdf]. It received substantial grants from the United Nations Population Fund, a Dutch Fund for gender equality, as well as standard U.S. philanthropy groups. Nearly half of its funding, though, comes from the Qatari government. (The building was actually purchased by SoHo Properties, a private real estate company run by Sharif el-Gamal, a congregant of the imam.)

This obviously leaves the center well short of its ambitious fundraising goal. Oz Sultan, a spokesman for the new nonprofit that will take charge of the fundraising effort, called Park51, told me that fundraising efforts were “super-nascent right now.” Funds will arrive, he said, “from a variety of different sources,” including grants, bond issues, and private contributions. Arts funding are a possibility, he shared, noting Park51′s aspirations to create a city structure on par with the Guggenheim. “There’s not going be minarets,” he added. (more…)

Thank You!

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