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Turkey Ruffles Feathers All Over

New pro-Palestinian stand births new rivalries

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(assertive)

Over the weekend, some began to realize that Turkey and its newly prominent international standing, particularly as an assertive regional power, is causing feelings of worry, resentment, and rivalry—and not just in Israel and the United States, where you would expect it.

Seemingly every day since it vocally praised (and tacitly supported) the flotilla, Turkey has been seen to be displacing several Arab states (especially Egypt) and Iran as the prime advocate for Palestinian rights. To take one example: Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad recently endorsed a plan that would see Turkey supervising Gaza crossings as part of a deal that would lift the blockade.

Two authors argue that the Arab countries and Iran have noticed: “You can get a sense of just how attractive Turkey’s leadership is among the Arab masses,” they write, “by reading the flood of recent negative articles about Ankara in the government-owned newspapers of the Arab states.” Last week, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran’s president, responded to Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan’s newly vocal anti-Israel rhetoric with his own vociferously anti-Israel speech … which you probably didn’t notice, because everyone is so focused on Turkey right now. (The authors assert that Turkey’s supplanting of Iran could actually redound to America’s benefit. Go figure.) (more…)

Today on Tablet

The mommyblog deluge, and more

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Today in Tablet Magazine, Marjorie Ingall may be our parenting columnist, but she ain’t no mommyblog reader. Josh Lambert has his weekly round-up of forthcoming and new books of note, including contributing editor Ben Greenman’s What He’s Poised To Do. And The Scroll is back at it.

East J’lem Blow Them Horns

The dread vuvuzela enters the fray

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Vuvuzela-users.(Wikipedia)

The East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah has long been ground zero for the movement to halt all Israeli building—indeed, all official Israeli presence—in East Jerusalem, and it has become most famous for its Friday protests, in which Palestinians and left-wing Jews join to draw attention to their cause.

And what’s the best way to draw attention to your cause? I think everyone who has been watching World Cup Finals matches over the past two weeks knows that: Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Yes, folks, the Sheikh Jarrah protestors have resorted to vuvuzelas, those annoying horns that have become notorious for dominating (and partially ruining) soccer viewing experiences. I hope they know that they are probably losing as many fans as they are making. (I also hope they know whose pockets they are lining!)

If you would like to keep up-to-date on the vuvuzela’s doings, you can check—what else?—its Twitter feed.

Sheikh Jarrah Protesters Hope To Draw Attention With Vuvuzelas [Ynet]
Earlier: East Jerusalem Neighborhood Encapsulates Conflict

Daybreak: Israel Lightens Blockade

Plus rumor is that Rahm’s out, and more in the news

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White House chief-of-staff Rahm Emanuel.(Win McNamee/Getty Images)

• Israeli officially established an eased land blockade that should allow many more goods into Gaza. The move received praise from several quarters, including President Obama, who announced a White House meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu on July 6. [NYT]

• Heard the rumor? It’s that Rahm Emanuel—who once harbored ambitions of being the first Jewish Speaker of the House—will leave his chief-of-staff post by the end of the year. [Telegraph]

• U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Israel’s internal probe into the flotilla lacks “international credibility.” [NYT]

• More than a dozen U.S. warships, including an aircraft carrier, and at least one Israeli ship reportedly crossed through Suez toward the Red Sea Saturday, angering many in Egypt. [Haaretz]

• This morning, Iran stopped two U.N. nuclear inspectors from entering the country. [Reuters/NYT]

• Defense Secretary Ehud Barak is in Washington, D.C., for senior-level talks, primarily about Iran. [JPost]

Oh, and it’s the longest day of the year. So enjoy that.

Sundown: Controversial Novelist Dies

Plus Turkey rising, and more

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José Saramago.(Wikipedia)

• The Nobel Prize-winning Portuguese novelist José Saramago died. He will be remembered as a great writer … and as the man who in 2002 compared Israeli actions in the West Bank to German actions at Auschwitz. [NYT]

• If it wasn’t clear enough before, the United States can definitely no longer count on Turkey backing it on major issues. [National Interest]

• Is Turkey attempting to revive its Ottoman (read: imperial) roots? [TNR]

• A profile of Elena Kagan’s family, which managed to be Jewish, left-wing, and Upper West Side, all at the same time. [NYT]

• Bollywood is making a controversial Hitler biopic. [Arts Beat]

• Indoors this weekend? Check out Executive Editor Gabriel Sanders interviewing Kai Bird, author of the memoir Crossing Mandelbaum’s Gate, on Book TV. [CSPAN]

A song about Molly Bloom. Music (and performer): Alicia Jo Rabins. Lyrics: James Joyce.

Alicia Jo Rabins sings Molly Bloom from Tablet Magazine on Vimeo.

Eric Cantor Bets on It

‘It’ being high inflation

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Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Virginia) in March.(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Item! Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Virginia)—the House Minority Whip, a rising star in his party, and the only Jewish national Republican lawmaker—has been betting against the federal government. Like, literally. Since last December, he has been an investor in an exchange fund that profits as U.S. Treasury bonds fall. But where does he fall on Israel bonds???

Eric Cantor’s Investment [Washington Wire]

Man Walks Into a Psychiatrist’s Office

An old Jew tells a joke

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Well, yes.

Tel Aviv Goalie Shines on World Stage

Nigeria’s Enyeama earns plaudits from Maradona, Messi

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Nigerian goalie Vincent Enyeama blocks a Greek shot yesterday.(Hoang Dinh Nam/AFP/Getty Images)

Okay, first things first: The United States—Tablet Magazine’s official World Cup Finals soccer team—was just cheated out of a win over Slovenia by an idiot ref. This isn’t whininess or being a homer; any number of neutral-minded soccer observers are going to say the same thing in the coming hours and days. It’s just a fact. Video here. Final result: 2-2. Grrr.

Second: As I predicted, Jewish hunk Benny Feilhaber did indeed play midfielder for the Americans, going in for the entirety of the second half. (Fat lotta good that did us! Sorry, sorry.)

Third: There is another exciting player and team for Tablet Magazine readers, and that is Nigeria. Why? Because that side’s exceptional goalie, Vincent Enyeama, plays club soccer for Hapoel Tel Aviv. After Nigeria’s 1-0 loss to Argentina, Argentine striker Lionel Messi, generally agreed to be the world’s best player, had high, high praise for Enyeama, calling him “exceptional”. Added Argentine manager Diego Maradona, arguably the greatest soccer player in history, “He was the one who made us suffer, because in football if you create chances and fail to convert then you can be punished.” (By “football,” that silly Argentine clearly means soccer.)

(By the way, four years ago, during the previous World Cup Finals, there was a Forward article—a particularly well-written one, at that—about a Ghanaian player who also played for Hapoel Tel Aviv and who, after scoring a goal against the Czech Republic, yanked an Israeli flag out of his shorts and waved it about, earning the ire of much of the Arab world.)

Now, the bad news: Yesterday, Nigeria somewhat surprisingly lost 2-1 to Greece. Their final game is next Tuesday against South Korea. I’m not positive about this, but I believe they still have the opportunity to advance: If they defeat South Korea by a significant margin, and if Argentina defeats Greece (as is indeed likely), then South Korea, Greece, and Nigeria would all be 1-2-0, and the tiebreaker would go to goal differential, in which case Nigeria would stand a very decent chance at advancing to the elimination round as Group B’s second seed. Got that? So stay tuned!

Everyone’s Talking About Enyeama [VF.com]
Earlier: U.S.A.! U.S.A.!

Hasid Is a Punk Rocker!

The Punk Jews project

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Joey Ramone, born Jeffrey Hyman.(Wikipedia)

Oh, that’s not the song. How did I confuse “Sheena” with “Hasid”?

Now that I have your attention, I’d like to introduce you to Punk Jews, an online documentary series set to air in the late summer, featuring the characters that make up the, well, punk Jewish scene. Not punk, the genre of music, but punk, the attitude. The spirit. (Incidentally, among those who do represent Jewish punk, the genre of music, are the Ramone brothers—they were born Jeffrey and Mitchell Hyman in Forest Hills, Queens.)

The documentary’s subjects include Hasidic African-American rapper Y-Love; Levi Okunov, a fashion designer originally from Crown Heights; and Rivka Karasik, a mixed-media artist who grew up Lubavitch. Also featured is the crowd from Cholent, the Thursday night free-wheeling party that was thrown in the Millinery Shul and named after the stew-like concoction containing beans, barley, flanken, potatoes, and, of course, kishka.

Filmmakers Jesse Zook Mann, Saul Sudin, and Evan Kleinman just met their $10,000 fundraising goal through kickstarter.com.

They hope to add to that sum this Saturday night at Manhattan’s Sixth Street Synagogue. The event will feature performances by Golem, Y-Love, Moshiach Oi, Eden, and Blanket Statementstein, with art installations by Rivka Karasik, Elke Reva Sudin, and Ira Kaufman.

The event will take place this Saturday at 9:30 p.m.

For more information please visit PunkJews.com.

‘The Snotgreen Sea’

‘Ulysses’ in 15 minutes

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OK, last one, we promise. But here, from Wednesday night’s “The Bloom in Bloomsday” celebration, is our 15-minute Ulysses-spiel. Invest the time, and we assure you: You will walk away with a pretty basic idea of what happens in that untameable, 700-page novel.

Today on Tablet

Hancockery, fathers and sons, and more

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Today in Tablet Magazine, columnist Etgar Keret toys with new ways of autographing his own books. Executive editor Gabriel Sanders considers a relationship whose complexity is frequently over-looked: The father-son one. In his weekly haftorah column, Liel Leibovitz sees Jephthah as a metaphor for all the unjustly discriminated against. And The Scroll will carry you to the weekend.

Cheftestant Cooks His Mother’s Borscht

Meet the Jews of ‘Top Chef’

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Top Chef cheftestant Amanda Baumgarten.(Cookstr)

Know we’re a day late, but the new season of Top Chef premiered Wednesday night (in Washington, D.C.!!!), and I can confirm, via official Bravo spokesperson, that the two contestants who seem like they would be Jewish—Alex Reznik (born in Russia, moved to Brooklyn) and Amanda Baumgarten—are, in fact, the two Jews.

Both survived the first episode handily. And in fact, Reznik received special props from the judges for his Elimination Challenge dish: A deconstructed version of, yes, his mom’s borscht.

Top Chef [Bravo]

Daybreak: Medvedev Against U.S. Move

Plus more on yesterday’s protest, and more in the news

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Russian President Dmitry Medvedev today.(Alexander Nemenov/AFP/Getty Images)

• Russian President Medvedev sharply criticized the new U.S. and EU sanctions, saying he prefers when all countries act together, as with the just-passed U.N. ones. [Ynet]

• The Obama administration praised Israel’s easing of the Gaza land blockade. [Haaretz]

• I linked yesterday, but the big news of the day remains the thousands of Israeli ultra-Orthodox who protested a Supreme Court decision integrating religious schools, opening them to Sephardim from Arab and North African countries. [NYT]

• A Forward writer reminds Times readers that, through their emigration battle, Jews were in the front guard in the movement to change the Soviet regime. [NYT]

• Congratulations to the Los Angeles Lakers, who defeated the Boston Celtics to repeat as NBA champions. Special shout-outs to back-up guard Jordan Farmar, who is Jewish, and starting forward Ron Artest, who thanked his shrink afterward. [WSJ]

Sundown: Ultra-Orthodox Protest Integration

Plus politicizing genocide, and more

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Protesters in Jerusalem today.(AP/NYT)

• Ultra-Orthodox protesters were out en masse in Jerusalem in response to a Supreme Court decision forcing a religious girls’ school to let Sephardim study alongside Ashkenazim. [AP/NYT]

• The European Union joined the United States in imposing its own, especially tough sanctions on Iran, particularly targeting its energy sector. [Ynet]

• The former head of the main Syrian synagogue in Deal, New Jersey, pleaded guilty to federal money-laundering charges. [APP]

• James Besser speaks out against the practice of tethering affirmation or denial of the Armenian genocide to Turkey’s behavior. [Political Insider]

This has been my favorite goal of the World Cup Finals so far: Brazil’s first against North Korea yesterday (Brazil won 2-1).

Debating Israel From Afar

Jeffrey Goldberg and Jeremy Ben-Ami lock shofars

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Jeffrey Goldberg.(JeffreyGoldberg.net)

At one point last night Jeffrey Goldberg opined on the unparalleled, shaky status of the state of Israel. “Bolivians,” he joked, “never wake up and ask ‘will Bolivia be here tomorrow?’” His comment captured the mixture of lightness and gravity in the evening’s conversation. Goldberg, the venerable Atlantic correspondent (and Tablet Magazine contributing editor), joined J Street leader Jeremy Ben-Ami for the herculean task of unraveling the evolving relationship between American Jews and Israel. Before a crowd of roughly 400 packed into the New York Society for Ethical Culture, the pair handled their task well, refusing to shy away from difficult questions that linger over the issue. (J Street has posted video of the entire conversation here.)

As Marissa Brostoff predicted yesterday, Goldberg both sat and positioned himself to Ben-Ami’s right. It was Ben-Ami’s home court: his “pro-Israel, pro-peace” group organized the event under the rhetorical title, “Who speaks for me?” But Goldberg was the agitating gadfly, prodding his interlocutor with questions on a broad range of topics, from J Street’s overall role to the sanctity of the Temple Mount. Ben-Ami revealed his experience as a communications pro, crafting his responses clearly and carefully.

The two departed significantly on the tactics and pragmatism of America’s Middle East policy, which Goldberg promptly put down in his blog this morning. But I found another point of contention in their dialogue far more interesting. Early in the discussion, Ben-Ami voiced his adamant concern that Israel was increasingly becoming “illiberal,” a shift he saw as a fundamental affront to “Jewish values.” Goldberg countered with a sharp critique that, essentially, called into question much of J Street’s work. “What if you, as an American Jew,” he asked, “don’t have a stake in Israel?” The reality, Goldberg asserted, is that critics here, thousands of miles away, would not directly “suffer the policy consequences” of certain proposals as viscerally as Israelis would. “I’m still not sure,” Goldberg said, “that it is the right of American Jews to lecture Israel.” (more…)

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