Send Bieber on Birthright!

Pop sensation could head for the Holy Land

Bieber is 16. I know, right?(Wikipedia)

Justin Bieber is a pop star who looks like he’s about 11—don’t worry, though, he’s 16. If a celebrity is someone famous for being famous, Bieber is a celebrity who is famous for perennially being a trending topic on Twitter. For his upcoming world tour, Bieber’s fans are having a contest to see which country wants him the most. Currently:

Third Place: Poland.

Second Place: North Korea (Gawker explains how Bieber is so popular in a country that doesn’t have Twitter, or the Internet).

First Place: Israel.

I don’t think I need to tell you what to do now.

Latvian Rightists Celebrate Nazis

‘Holocaust obfuscation’ continues in the Baltics

An opponent of the march watches it go down in Riga. Great t-shirt.(Ilmars Znotins/AFP/Getty Images)

A Latvian court ruled that a group can march today to commemorate—in, like, a celebratory way—the 1941 Nazi invasion. The decision earned the condemnations of Latvia’s prime and foreign ministers, as well as the Anti-Defamation League and the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

The march is properly understood in the context of “Holocaust obfuscation,” which Dovid Katz reported on for Tablet Magazine. An Eastern European (and maybe particularly Baltic?) phenomenon, Holocaust obfuscation does not deny the Holocaust, but states that the crimes of occupying Nazis and the crimes of occupying Soviets were more or less equivalent. This march perhaps takes Holocaust obfuscation one step further (and several too far!) by cheering the relief of Soviet occupation that Nazi invasion brought.

“To celebrate the anniversary of the Nazi invasion of Riga on July 1,” said the director of Israel’s Simon Wiesenthal Center, “is to celebrate the mass murder of all those victimized by the Nazis in Latvia—primarily Jews, but also Communists, Gypsies and the mentally ill.”

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman is slated to visit Latvia over the weekend to honor the roughly 66,000 Latvian Jews whom the Nazis murdered.

Latvian March To Mark Nazi Invasion Condemned [JTA]
Related: The Crime of Surviving [Tablet Magazine]

A Conservative Novel of Conservative Lineage

Review elides author’s famed legacy


“As with most first novels, The November Criminals contains some repurposing of life experience,” explains the Wall Street Journal in its generally positive review of Sam Munson’s debut. The book seems to be essentially a long—one can’t resist saying Caulfield-esque—monologue from a particularly cynical high-school senior growing up upper-middle-class in Washington, D.C., which, you see, is also where Munson grew up.

Additionally, the reviewer says, the novel might be considered a politically conservative one—it “takes aim at a lot of liberal pieties”—which presumably reflects Munson’s own beliefs: “The most interesting bit of Mr. Munson’s background is that the author worked as a researcher for CNBC host and devoted supply-sider Larry Kudlow and as an editor at Commentary magazine.”

Everyone ought to be judged on the basis of who he is and his own work. That said, given the novel’s politics, might “the most interesting bit of Mr. Munson’s background” not be that he worked for Commentary, but that he is, um, Norman Podhoretz’s grandson? (more…)

Worst. Ringtone. Ever.

German man arrested after phone rings


A German man could spend six months in prison for publicly displaying Nazis and Nazi works, in violation of the German constitution (via Ynet). The 54-year-old was initially caught when, on a Hamburg train, his phone rang—the man’s “ring tone” being a recording of Hitler promising “destruction of world Jewry” (police subsequently discovered various Nazi paraphernalia in his possession). What is illegal in Germany, it seems, is merely extremely tacky everywhere else.

German Faces Jail for Adolph Hitler Mobile Phone Ring Tone [Telegraph]

Today on Tablet

The ‘unofficial ambassador,’ Auslander’s voices, and more


Today in Tablet Magazine, columnist Shalom Auslander lets us hear all the little voices that speak to him when he writes. Senior writer Allison Hoffman profiles Robert Wexler, the former congressman from Boca Raton who was an early Obama supporter and is now the “unofficial ambassador to the Jewish community.” Martin Kramer, Jacob Weisberg, and others weigh in on the Obama administration’s Mideast record, joining yesterday’s roundtable. Jenna Weissman Joselit considers a new book of engravings depicting 18th-century Jewish life in Europe. The Scroll can have its own roundtable, all by itself. So there.

Booze Jokes, Not Funny Anymore

This week on ‘Top Chef’


Most of last week’s Top Chef D.C. post was me making fun of Amanda Baumgarten—one of this season’s two Jewish cheftestants—for serving middle-schoolers chicken in sherry jus. This week, it takes Amanda only to the opening Quickfire Challenge, a dessert competition, to start up with the alcohol again. “I decide to make an apple, rosemary, bourbon, and vanilla pie,” she says. But soon we will learn more about Amanda, and her apparent compulsion to serve booze gets a lot less funny. Just kidding! No, no I’m not.

The Quickfire guest judge is Johnny Iuzzini, a pastry chef who just so happens to be the host of the forthcoming Top Chef-esque Bravo series, Just Desserts. As Jack Donaghy would say, “Never badmouth synergy.”

Amanda’s apple pie is taking a turn for the savory. She is sauteeing her pommes like they’re pommes de terre. “I think that given that I’m not a pastry chef, I didn’t mess anything up too terribly,” she says as she presents her messy slice. “I think it’s kind of a cop-out to say you’re not a pastry chef,” Iuzzuni responds. “Like, my grandmother’s not a pastry chef, but she can make a pie.” And I’m not a professional asshole-detector, but I can still call you an asshole. How do you like them bourbon-soaked apples?

Meanwhile, Alex Reznik, the other Jewish chef, is making an almond crust with … something. (more…)

Daybreak: Turkish, Israeli Ministers Break Bread

Plus Abbas charms, Kristof fumes, and more in the news

President Abbas earlier this week.(Thaer Ganaim/PPO/Getty Images)

• Turkey’s foreign minister and Israel’s industry minister—Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, of Ehud Barak’s Labor Party—secretly met in Zurich behind the back of Israel’s foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman. Lieberman was perfectly okay with this. Not. [NYT]

• Tensions continue to rise in Silwan, the East Jerusalem neighborhood where 22 Palestinian homes are slated for demolition to make room for “a park that would flank a promenade of restaurants, art studios and shops.” [WP]

• U.S. envoy George Mitchell confirmed in person that the easing of the Gaza blockade is already underway. [WP]

• Palestinian President Abbas has launched a “charm offensive” at the Israeli public, telling reporters he will enter direct talks once Israel clarifies its positions on borders and security. [JPost]

• In what will be the first senior contact in almost half a year, Palestinian Prime Minister Fayyad will soon meet with Israeli Defense Minister Barak. [NYT]

• “Our ally, Israel,” argues Nicholas Kristof from the West Bank, “is using American military support to maintain an occupation that is both oppressive and unjust.” [NYT]

Sundown: Hitchens To Have Chemo

Plus Cantor ups profile, ‘TAL’ takes last breath, and more

Christopher Hitchens.(Flickr)

• “I have been advised by my physician that I must undergo a course of chemotherapy on my esophagus,” reveals Tablet Magazine contributor Christopher Hitchens. There’s something poignant about his omission of the word “cancer.” Get well soon, Hitch. [VF Daily]

• As House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Virginia) readies a book tour, a colleague predicts, “He’ll be the first Jewish Republican something.” Please don’t hesitate to suggest various somethings in the comments. [Politico]

• Hamas scion turned Christian turned Israeli spy turned California resident Mosab Hassan Yousef was granted asylum in America. [JPost]

This American Life calls it quits after running out of vestiges of upper-middle-class American life to chronicle. Note the source, please. [The Onion]

• Eli Valley’s Stuart the Turtle flies to Israel. Chaos and anti-Semitism ensue. [Forward]

• Lower East Side Torah store Zelig Blumenthal appears to have closed. See some amazing pictures of this relic of another world. [The Lo-Down]

Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-New York) makes an awesome play at Nationals Park during the annual Congressional Baseball Game, landing him on SportsCenter.

Iran Chooses Apple

Intel, IBM, and Coca-Cola are too ‘Zionist’


As part of its “Palestinian support law,” Iran has outlawed products made by Intel, Coca-Cola, Nestlé, IBM, and other “Zionist companies,” by which the Islamic Republic means companies, mostly American, with a strong presence in Israel. Reached for comment, an Iranian citizen said, “They couldn’tve banned Pepsi instead?”

Iran Declares Boycott on Coca-Cola, Intel, and Zionists [Ynet]

She Got Mugged!

An old Jew tells a joke



Jew Versus Jew

Clinton nod revs up Colorado race


Colorado’s Democratic Senate primary took a turn for the heated yesterday when former President Bill Clinton endorsed Andrew Romanoff, a former state House speaker, over current Sen. Michael Bennet.

The main story is that Clinton, for all his friendliness with the Obama administration, is going against its strongly preferred candidate, Bennet. But The Scroll is interested because this race features two candidates who are both Jewish, albeit in subtly different ways.

Romanoff identifies as Jewish on his Facebook page. By contrast, Bennet—the brother of James Bennet, who is the current Atlantic editor and former New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief—has a Christian father and says he was “raised with two different heritages.” His mother’s side, however, possesses that ultimate token of contemporary Jewish authenticity: His grandparents survived the Warsaw Ghetto.

A spokesperson for the National Jewish Democratic Council told me this morning that her group does not endorse candidates before general elections. (more…)

Edenic Camp Opens Upstate

First Jewish green summer solace


Today marks the opening of the ambitiously named Eden Village Camp, in Putnam Valley, New York (about 50 miles north of the City, in Putnam County). Billing itself “The Green Dream of Jewish Summer Camp,” it says it is a “first-of-its-kind non-profit Jewish environmental overnight camp for 3rd –12th graders.”

According to an email blast, the camp benefited from a competitive $1.1 million Foundation for Jewish Camp and Jim Joseph Foundation grant; the site and a $1.6 million renovation from UJA-Federation of New York; Natan; and hundreds of individual donors.

Israel’s Top Diplomat

Lieberman is F.M., but Barak may as well be

Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Secretary of State Clinton last week.(Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images)

Here’s a further wrinkle to the Israeli government’s already byzantine coalition politics: While Prime Minister Netanyahu needs Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and his Yisrael Beiteinu to shore up his right flank at home, abroad he needs to project a more moderate image; and so, reports the Forward’s Nathan Guttman, Defense Minister Ehud Barak—leader of the more moderate and venerable Labor Party, and a former prime minister—is Israel’s de facto top diplomat.

When Lieberman traveled stateside earlier this month, he stayed in New York, mostly buttering up the Russian Jewish community (as Allison Hoffman reported). Barak headed to Washington, D.C., and met with top officials.

Adds Guttman:

Washington’s warm embrace of Israel’s defense minister stands in stark contrast to the public display of chill that came out of the White House during Netanyahu’s last two visits, which were both scheduled in the evening, without photo-ops or press availabilities. Then, there is the almost nonexistent contact that administration officials have had with Lieberman, Israel’s actual foreign minister.

But it is not just U.S. difficulties with these two officials that puts Barak in his current role. According to David Makovsky, director of the project on the Middle East peace process at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, the Obama administration is actively attracted to work with Barak in particular, because he is seen as someone who “understands that time is not on Israel’s side” when it comes to negotiations with the Palestinians.

Israel’s Stealth F.M.: Barak, Not Lieberman, Tasked With Weighty Issues [Forward]
Earlier: Lieberman Nixes Palestinian State in ’12
Lieberman, in New York, Meets With Russian Jews

Today on Tablet

Jewish gangleader, Mideast roundtable, and more


Today in Tablet Magazine, Lee Smith gives his column to some friends—including Elliott Abrams and Robert Malley—to opine about the Obama administration’s work in the Mideast so far. More tomorrow! Dvora Meyers profiles Benjy Melendez, a descendant of conversos who in the ‘60s founded the violent South Bronx street gang the Ghetto Brothers but now places his religion, which he interprets only from the Tanakh, in the center of his life. Last night, the Three Weeks, which culminate in Tisha B’Av, began; here is everything you need to know. The Scroll always wants to know!

Which Squad You Should Root For

Now that the U.S. is gone from the World Cup

The Dutch team celebrates. Go Orange!(Thomas Coex/AFP/Getty Images)

There are eight teams left in the World Cup Finals. Which should be Tablet Magazine’s official team, since Tablet Magazine’s original official team was defeated Saturday? Let’s have a look at the nominees:

Uruguay. Harbored Nazis after the war.

Ghana. They (in soccer, a side are described with plural verbs) defeated Tablet Magazine’s official team, so by a certain logic they now claim that mantle. Plus, they have John Pantsil, who in the last World Cup waved an Israeli flag after scoring a goal, in honor of his then-team, Hapoel Tel Aviv.

Argentina. Harbored Nazis.

Paraguay. Harbored Nazis. Harbors Hamas.

Netherlands. Compared to most other Western European countries (ahem, France?), they resented Nazi persecution and slaughter of their Jews. Plus, Anne Frank lived there!

Germany. I mean.


Brazil. You can’t root for Brazil: That’s like rooting for the Yankees or the Lakers! Plus, they harbored Nazis.

For now, Tablet Magazine is officially supporting the Netherlands, which is playing Brazil, and Ghana, which is playing Uruguay, both on Friday. We’ll revisit the matter after the quarter-finals. Happy watching!

Earlier: U.S.A.! U.S.A.!

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