IDF Is Deft With New Boat

Although probe is criticized as soft

(Abu Muqawama via True/Slant)

Haaretz has a damning take on the Israeli military’s probe into the flotilla raid, even as the IDF’s response to a new challenge to the Gaza Blockade indicates that lessons have been learned and wiser, cooler heads have been put into command.

Amos Harel says the IDF report contains “a clear and detailed analysis identifying numerous mistakes, and no recommendations regarding the individuals involved.” It does establish that the activists fired first—something we basically knew already, and yet also something that those who don’t already believe it won’t believe just because the IDF says it is true.

In other words, says Haaretz, the probe was almost useless: “The bottom line, four years after the Second Lebanon War, is that the entire defense establishment had planned for the wrong scenario in the flotilla affair.”

And yet! The IDF was yesterday presented with a real-life second round, and, so far, it seems to be doing something right. A ship sponsored by a son of Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi and ostensibly bearing humanitarian cargo left Greece a few days ago. Yesterday morning, it was bound for Gaza; Israeli diplomats publicly cautioned the navy not to forcibly halt the boat before it had entered Gaza’s territorial waters (the flotilla raid took place in international waters); and, yesterday evening, the boat’s captain said that he would set a course for Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, near Gaza, which Israeli authorities are permitting. Problem solved? Here’s hoping, and here’s also hoping it’s not the last crisis to end in so un-crisis-like a manner.

IDF Probe of Gaza Flotilla Carefully Avoided Placing Real Blame [Haaretz]
Related: Israel Bites the Bait [Tablet Magazine]

Daybreak: Turkey Seeks All Apologies

Plus what’s Mubarak’s deal? and more in the news

Mubarak last week, in Paris.(Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images)

• Turkey still wants that apology over the flotilla before it agrees to restore relations. [WSJ]

• A harrowing dispatch from Gaza. [NYT]

• Egyptian President Mubarak’s postponements of meetings with Prime Minister Netanyahu has Israeli officials concerned about his reported cancer; there is also one report that the postponements were connected to Israeli actions in East Jerusalem. [Haaretz]

• There have been small clashes between U.N. soldiers and civilians in southern Lebanon recently, as that area grows more restive. [Haaretz]

• The head of the American Jewish World Service calls on international donors to shift focus toward building up earthquake-stricken Haiti’s indigenous governmental infrastructure. [NYT]

• President Obama nominated Jacob J. Lew, an Orthodox Jew, to be budget director, saying he is already in the “Hall of Fame” for his work in that position under President Clinton. [NYT]

Sundown: Boat Bound for Gaza

Plus Zuckerman the speechwriter, and more

Mort Zuckerman.(Theo Wargo/Getty Images)

• The Israeli navy has radioed the Libyan-sponsored ship heading from Greece to Gaza, urging it to change course. “It will not reach Gaza,” said an IDF spokesperson. [NYT]

• Mort Zuckerman says he helped write one of President Obama’s speeches. It isn’t a very credible claim. [Ben Smith]

• Jerusalem was named Travel + Leisure’s “Best City” in the Middle East/Africa region. [Travel + Leisure]

• Brooklyn kosher fish company Dagim is donating 2500 portions of fish to New York’s Masbia kosher soup kitchens. [WSJ]

• David Berkowitz, a.k.a. the Son of Sam, who became a born-again Christian in jail two decades ago, has gained many admirers in the evangelical world. [NYT]

• Prompted by last week’s Times article, J Street has called for a U.S. Treasury investigation into pro-settler charities. [JTA]

My favorite Seinfeld Steinbrenner scene. Although, as Queens residents, wouldn’t the Costanzas be Mets fans?

| MySpace Video

When The Boss Played The Boss

Steinbrenner was normally voiced by Larry David


I was not sure how, or even if, to address the death of New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner (although I will say that if you care at all, this and this are necessary reading). The Boss was not Jewish; and anyway, we had not one but two deaths covered yesterday. (And it’s only Tuesday! Everyone hide!) The closest Jewish link to Steinbrenner—other than the millions of Jewish Yankee fans —is that he was famously voiced, though not played, on Seinfeld by Larry David; Steinbrenner was George Costanza’s boss from Seasons 6 through 8. Still, enh.

But then, via City Room, there’s this: Steinbrenner actually appeared in a Seinfeld episode, though his scenes were deleted before broadcast. But now you can see the three scenes from “The Invitations,” the Season 7 finale (also known as the episode in which Susan dies). An important note is that the final two—in which we have Steinbrenner’s and then Elaine’s backs to us—are parodies of the typical Steinbrenner scenes. If nothing else, they are proof that Steinbrenner was aware of what everyone thought of him. Which is something.

George Steinbrenner, Who Built Yankees Into Powerhouse, Dies at 80 [NYT]

Column Subject Enters the Comment Thread

Our cyberbullying article attracts L.A. father

(Photoillustration: Len Small/Tablet Magazine; photos: iStockphoto)

A funny thing happened in the comments section of Marjorie Ingall’s column yesterday, in which she and Liel Leibovitz argued over a recent case involving a school suspension over cyberbullying. Evan Cohen—the father who sued his daughter’s Los Angeles school for suspending her for posting a mean video about a classmate on YouTube—waded into the fray. And then Marjorie and Liel stepped in, too, and, well, it pretty much goes from there (40 comments and counting).

You should check out the whole conversation, and even contribute—but be civil, please. Evan Cohen’s defense is after the jump.


Killing Hitler

An old Jew tells a joke


Inglorious Basterds, the comedy.

How Does Kristol Do It?

Guy’s on like 80 million boards, which all say the same thing

William Kristol.(Fox News)

“When intellectuals cannot do anything else,” Dissent founder Irving Howe once quipped, “they start a magazine.” Similarly, when hawkish, predominantly Jewish foreign policy experts who are friends with or indeed are Bill Kristol cannot do anything else, they start a think tank. You can trace this back pretty far—to 1993’s New Citizenship Project (chaired by Kristol), which gave birth to the Project for the New American Century (also chaired by Kristol); he didn’t found the Ethics and Public Policy Center, but he serves on its advisory board, as well as that of Elizabeth Cheney’s Keep America Safe.

Which brings us to March of last year. Then, Kristol co-founded the Foreign Policy Initiative, whose goal is to promote, among other things, “robust support for America’s democratic allies and opposition to rogue regimes that threaten American interests.”

Which brings us to yesterday, when—who else?—Kristol co-founded the Emergency Committee for Israel, which “seeks … to educate the public about the serious challenges to Israel’s security and about what elected officials in this country are doing,” which is to say, it seeks to support a democratic ally and oppose the rogue regimes that threaten it. (more…)

Farmar Heads to Jersey

And Scheyer could play for another Evil Empire

Farmar battles for the ball in the 2010 NBA Finals.(Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Jordan Farmar—currently the only Jewish NBA player who is not the Sacramento Kings’ Israeli forward Omri Casspisigned a three-year, $12 million contract with the New Jersey Nets. This is exciting for several reasons:

• It brings him to the Tristate Area (Jewish Heritage Night every night!);

• The Nets were, literally, the league’s worst team last season, which means Farmar will get much more playing time than he did on the Los Angeles Lakers, which were, literally, the league’s best team last season;

• Next season is the first season that the Nets will not be playing in the inconvenient Meadowlands, but instead at the much-more-accessible stadium in downtown Newark;

• If things go according to plan, the Nets will be playing in a brand-new Brooklyn stadium while Farmar is still under contract;

• The Nets’ owners are a Russian billionaire playboy and the biggest hip-hop star of all time.

Meanwhile, undrafted Duke graduate Jon Scheyer has signed on to play summer ball with … the Miami Heat. Yes, that Miami Heat. (more…)

Today on Tablet

Hebrew month, two letters


Today in Tablet Magazine, we’re giving you the whole day to work on Ethan Friedman’s Av-themed crossword puzzle, because you’re going to need it. And The Scroll is going to need the whole day to cover all the crazy stuff going on in the news.

’Til Burial Do Us Part?

A Brooklyn temple seeks an interfaith cemetery

Prague’s famous Jewish cemetery.(Flickr)

A bidding war over a Brooklyn cemetery could end up providing a local solution to a much more widespread conundrum: Where should the members of interfaith families be buried?

On July 15, the New York State Cemetery Board will decide who can purchase and develop Canarsie Cemetery. The bidders include two other Brooklyn institutions: Cypress Hills Cemetery and Green-Wood Cemetery. If Green-Wood gets the 13-acre land, they plan to designate a portion of plots for Congregation Beth Elohim, a Reform temple in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn, which hopes to create a place where interfaith couples can be buried. (more…)

Daybreak: Conversions Bill Moves Closer to Law

Plus IDF cleared on flotilla, another boat approaches, and more in the news

The Libyan-sponsored ship, docked in Greece.(Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP/Getty Images)

• The controversial conversion bill passed parliamentary committee yesterday. One American rabbi warned that it “delegitimizes most of American Jewry.” [WP]

• The IDF’s probe into the flotilla incident found several errors, notably of intelligence, but ultimately determined it was justified in killing the nine civilians under the circumstances. [NYT]

• Meanwhile, the IDF prepares for a Libyan-sponsored humanitarian boat, with the Foreign Ministry urging it to wait to interdict the boat until it reaches Gaza’s territorial waters. [Haaretz]

• An Iranian nuclear scientist who mysteriously disappeared from Saudi Arabia last year turned up last night at the Pakistan Embassy in Washington, D.C., which houses the Iranian interests section. [Laura Rozen]

• Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pennsylvania), Syrian-Israeli peace mediator? [JTA]

• Israel is on a record-setting tourism pace this year. [JTA]

Sundown: Yet Another Israel Group

Plus yet another mah-jongg article, and yet more

Mah-jongg tiles.(Wikipedia)

• There’s a new hawkish group, the Emergency Committee for Israel. “We’re the pro-Israel wing of the pro-Israel community,” says Bill Kristol, who is involved, as is former McCain adviser Michael Goldfarb. [Politico]

• This is literally an article about five Jewish women from the Five Towns and how they like to play mah-jongg. [NYT]

• The ethics of transgender dating in the Orthodox community. [NYT Magazine]

• New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that investigating the planned mosque at Ground Zero would be un-American. [AP/Vos Iz Neias?]

• That guy is totally wearing a Yom Kippur on his head! [Jezebel]

• Congratulations to Susan Cernerk and Robert Giampietro. Rob helped design our site! [NYT]

Some perverbs for the evening.

Apple Briefly Bans App Over Jewish Joke

A pretty funny one, too!


Here’s a fun story we got wind of. Apple, which is notorious for banning applications from its iPhone store for arbitrary (or worse) reasons, initially barred a joke-telling application called “The Comic Fortune Cookie.” According to Rick Cipes, proprietor of Outrageous App, Apple singled out one joke, a particularly Jewish one, for constituting “objectionable content.” “I fired off a rant, with a lot of explanation points, basically saying how this joke has been in circulation for 50 years,” Cipes e-mails, “and I am former journalist who is going to stop at nothing and make their lives miserable until they reversed their decision, blah, blah.” Anyway, all’s well that ends well: You can download the app, for free, onto your iPhone or compatible iPod.

Wait, what’s that? You want to hear the joke itself? The old Henny Youngman favorite is after the jump. (more…)

Fugs Co-Founder Kupferberg Passes

The brilliant, acerbic Tuli was 86

Tuli Kupferberg.(Steve Ben Israel)

More sad news today: Tuli Kupferberg, the classic counter-cultural figure who achieved greatest fame for co-founding the satirical band The Fugs, has died at 86. This according to journalist Jon Kalish, who heard the news from a neighbor of Kupferberg’s.

Earlier this year, Kalish profiled Kupferberg on our Vox Tablet podcast series. Though blind, Kupferberg was then preparing the release of a new Fugs album and continuing to update his YouTube page with his “Daily Perverbs.”

Kupferberg was born to a Yiddish-speaking family in New York. He quickly disowned the Jewish religion (he was reportedly expelled from Hebrew School), but was deeply engaged with Jewish and Yiddish culture until the end, Kalish reported.

According to his Wikipedia page, Kupferberg is the person who, in Allen Ginsberg’s Howl, “jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge this actually happened and walked away unknown and forgotten into the ghostly daze of Chinatown”—except it was the neighboring Manhattan Bridge.

On the podcast, you can hear excerpts from several of Kupferberg’s songs. One goes like this:

Backwards Jewish soldiers
Strolling back from war
Hug your Gentile brothers
As you’ve done before
Presidents and premiers perish
Empires rise and fall
But hearts of all compassion
Still might save us all

Related: Fugging Around [Tablet Magazine]

The ‘Rabba-Rouser’

‘New York’ profiles Avi Weiss

Rabbi Avi Weiss in 2005.(New York)

Weiss, of the Bronx’s Modern Orthodox Hebrew Institute of Riverdale (and Newsweek’s 18th most influential American rabbi) made waves earlier this year when he granted the brand-new title of “rabba” to Sara Hurwitz, the woman he had ordained the previous year under the (also brand-new) title of “maharat.” New York‘s feature does two things especially well: It shows how Weiss’s controversial move was the re-naming of the position, from maharat to rabba, rather than the ordination itself (the Orthodox organization Agudath Israel has called him a “rabba-rouser”); and it situates this latest provocation in the 64-year-old Weiss’s four-decade career of pushing the envelope.

Weiss’s stands mostly concerned matters like the Soviet refuseniks and the Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard. However, author Abigail Pogrebin, a Tablet Magazine contributor, adds, “Within the Orthodox community, Weiss has been equally disruptive, agitating for what he calls an ‘open Orthodoxy,’ which he believes can be inclusive without breaching the tradition’s stringent parameters.”

The Rabbi and the Rabba [NY Mag]
Earlier: Top Rabbi

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