Daybreak: No ‘Tectonic Rift,’ Oren Says

Plus Shalits on the march, and more in the news


• Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren denied reports that he described a “tectonic rift” in U.S.-Israeli relations earlier this year. [WP]

• In East Jerusalem, protesters and police skirmished at the site of 22 Palestinian homes whose destruction municipal authorities just approved. [NYT]

• Gilad Shalit’s family is leading a march to Jerusalem demanding the Israeli government retrieve Shalit, whom Hamas kidnapped over four years ago. There is particular resentment that the Gaza blockade was eased without securing anything—like Shalit’s release—in return. [NYT]

• Thomas Friedman warns that the expiration of the settlement freeze, in September, could prompt major West Bank violence. [NYT]

• U.S. and E.U. officials worry that China will step into the energy-trading vacuum that new sanctions against Iran will create, rendering them fairly meaningless. [LAT]

• M.D. Ginsburg, the husband of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, died at 78. [NYT]

Sundown: Why We Hate Her

Plus Iran gets its Seas confused, and more

Sarah Palin last month.(Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

• Maybe Jews hate Sarah Palin because they’re liberal. Or maybe they hate her because she disseminates op-eds that compare Obama to Hitler. [HuffPo]

• Respected Mossad chief Meir Dagan was reportedly denied a requested year-long extension of his tenure and will step down in three months. [Ynet]

• Hamas says U.S. officials have asked it not to tell people that they are meeting with the group. Which, Hamas adds, they may or may not be doing. Officially. Or unofficially. Or something. [Ynet]

• The Rabbinical Alliance of America warns that confirming Elena Kagan will “homosexualize” America. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. [Jeffrey Goldberg]

• Iran’s plans to send a flotilla to Gaza’s Mediterranean coast via the Caspian Sea were foiled by the revelation that the Caspian Sea is landlocked. [Heeb]

• The Macaroons, a JDub Records Act, will be performing tomorrow in lower Manhattan at Children’s Day. [Children’s Day]

Saw these guys last night. Seeing these guys again tonight. Last night, they played this:

Designer to the Converted Stars

Marry a Jew, buy a Wang

Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump (who wears Vera Wang).(Brian Marcus/Fred Marcus Photography via Getty Images)

Chelsea Clinton has tapped Vera Wang to make a one-of-a-kind dress for her upcoming July 31 nuptials to member-of-the-tribe Marc Mezvinsky. And Wang also designed a tzniusdik, Grace Kelly-like gown for Ivanka Trump, a.k.a Mrs. Jared Kushner. While Trump famously converted to Judaism with the Upper East Side’s Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, it is still up in the air whether Chelsea will take the dip made so famous by Sex and the City’s Charlotte.

Stay tuned …

Chelsea Clinton to Wed in Classic Vera Wang? [InStyle]

Leon Wieseltier’s Plan for Iran

‘Democratization and deterrence’

New Republic literary editor Leon Wieseltier.(Slate)

On Monday, Fareed Zakaria argued that Iran’s pro-democracy Green Movement is unlikely to overthrow the Ahmadinejad regime, and that “punitive sanctions” only will harm the Iranian people. In response, today, New Republic literary editor and Tablet Magazine contributing editor Leon Wieseltier criticized Zakaria, a prominent foreign-policy voice, arguing, “Real realism consists of the recognition that nuclear peace and social peace in Iran will be reliably achieved only with the advent of democracy, and that since June 12, 2009″—when Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad allegedly stole his re-election, prompting the rise of the Green Movement—”the advent of Iranian democracy is not an idle wish.”

With new Iran sanctions having just passed Congress (President Obama is expected to sign them), I decided to ask Wieseltier what else the United States should be doing to aid Iran’s Green Movement; where Israel fits in all of this; and how he feels about the annual gathering in Davos, Switzerland.

You publish an essay in the back of almost every issue of the New Republic. Why did you decide to publish this essay in the Washington Post?
There was nothing strategic about it. I had a piece in this issue, I published something on the Website, and I had something more I wanted to say, and I thought I would publish it at the scene of the crime. There was nothing calculating about it.

How do you feel about the sanctions against Iran that Congress passed yesterday?
The tougher the better, I don’t expect them to do the trick. Insofar that it’s a sign that Congress is finally being aroused, it is a good thing. But I think the Iranians have figured out ways to outwit any variety of sanctions. (more…)

The Renaming

An old Jew tells a joke


There’s a lesson in this, somewhere.

Black-Hat Couture

New fashion looks are big on beards

Two looks from the new Gaultier show.(NYT)

Alert Tablet Magazine intern Dina Mann notes that new, heralded runway shows from designers Jean Paul Gaultier and Yohji Yamamoto are big on the facial hair: So big, in fact, that there’s an argument that they are indulging in Hasidic chic.

But can it compete with shtetl chic?

Whiskers, Kittens [On the Runway]
Earlier: Vishniac Inspires High Fashion

Undrafted, Scheyer Ponders Next Move

Will Jewish ex-Dukie play ball in Israel?

Scheyer (C) presents President Obama with a jersey in May.(Mandel Nga/AFP/Getty Images)

Freshman University of Kentucky point guard John Wall was, to no one’s surprise, the number one pick at last night’s NBA Draft. He will hopefully spend a long and illustrious career reviving the moribund Washington Wizards.

But Jon Scheyer, the Jewish baller who led the Duke Blue Devils to this year’s NCAA Championship, went undrafted last night. (This Marylander pauses to note that the Terps’ Greivis Vasquez was drafted, thereby vindicating Vasquez’s being named ACC Player of the Year over Scheyer.)

It is unfair to compare (as this post, via Kaplan’s Korner, does) Scheyer to Greg Paulus, Duke’s previous good-outside-shooter, less-good-athlete: Scheyer is a far more multi-dimensional player. But it also may be a stretch to compare him to J.J. Redick (another classic unathletic Duke shooter), who this past season especially turned himself into one of the Orlando Magic’s most valuable players: Redick, after all, was drafted eleventh.

So what’s next for Scheyer? There had been rumblings that, should the NBA not work out, he might try for Israel’s league (where he would surely get playing time). At which point, someone would pretty much have to organize a one-on-one exhibition between the American playing in Israel and the Israeli playing in America.

Earlier: Could Champion Scheyer Make B’Ball Aliyah?

Today on Tablet

The wives’ Shabbat, and more


Today in Tablet Magazine, Elizabeth Cohen reports on her weekly Shabbat meal: A gathering of Jewish women married to non-Jewish spouses. In his weekly haftorah column, with his usual aplomb Liel Leibovitz traces the resonances between this week’s reading from Micah and Toy Story 3. The Scroll still needs to see it, so please don’t give anything away.

A Flotilla of Their Own

Pro-Israel group sails the East River for Shalit

The pro-Shalit Freedom Flotilla yesterday.(All photographs from the author.)

As you may remember, there was this thing a couple weeks ago in which a bunch of boats sailed from Turkey to Gaza in the name of bringing humanitarian aid to Palestinians living behind Israel’s blockade of the Hamas-controlled territory. The effort ended in a disastrous, and fatal, assault on one of the ships, the Mavi Marmara, and in the weeks since, the Netanyahu government, under heavy international pressure, agreed to relax the terms of its embargo without extracting anything in return—such as, for example, a commitment to release captive IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.

Today is the fourth anniversary of Shalit’s capture, and yesterday the New York-based Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations commemorated it by staging its own Freedom Flotilla. This one featured a pleasure boat called the Queen of Hearts, and it left from Pier 40 in lower Manhattan, sailed around the island, and traveled up the East River to the United Nations. It bore a humanitarian aid package, addressed to Shalit.

As the ship prepared for voyage, I stood aboard, sweating with everyone else, some of whom waved posters at the trickle of midday passersby along the Hudson waterfront. “If we can talk to one, two, three people, that’s the least we can do,” explained Rabbi Janise Poticha, who was there representing a small Reform synagogue in the Long Island hamlet of Massapequa.

On deck, Asaf Shariv, Israel’s consul-general in New York, moved through the crowd. “I can assure you that no one on this ship will be attacked by knives or guns,” he told me, referring to video that showed the original flotilla activists brandishing weapons as Israeli commandos rappelled onto the ships. (more…)

Daybreak: Sanctions Bill Passed

Plus the all-religions yeshiva, and more in the news

Brooklyn’s Hebrew Language Academy.(

• The Senate and House both passed a reconciled Iran Sanctions Act by overwhelming margins, setting it up for President Obama’s expected signature. AIPAC and J Street praised the votes. More on the soon-to-be law later today. [Laura Rozen]

• Israeli President Shimon Peres argued that the rest of the world should engage with Hamas to press it to renounce terrorism. [WP]

• The Hebrew Language Academy, in Midwood, Brooklyn, is a state-sponsored charter school with many trappings of a yeshiva yet a totally diverse student body, including plenty of Nation of Islam adherents who now can chant Hebrew. [NYT]

• For the first time since the flotilla incident, Israeli planes hit Gaza spots, targeting a weapons cache and smugging tunnels. The strike came a day after a rocket was launched from Gaza into Israel. There were no casualties from either operation. [Haaretz]

• The U.S. State Department took a stand against sea-bound attempts at sending aid to Gaza. “Mechanisms exist,” a statement read. [JTA/Forward]

• The issue of Aharon Barak—the “activist” former Israeli chief justice whom Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan has in the past praised—is quickly ballooning into a major potental obstacle on her path to confirmation. Which is both funny and ridiculous. [NYT]

Sundown: Abbas Slams Israel

Plus the Jewish World Cup, and more


• Palestinian Authority President Abbas blamed Israel for the peace talks’ halt, supported an international probe into the flotilla incident, and opposed the Gaza blockade. [Ynet]

• Foreign Minister Lieberman invited his European counterparts to Gaza. [Ynet]

• The Jewish World Cup will be played Sunday on Randall’s Island, between Manhattan and The Bronx in the East River. The soccer tournament will involve New York-based Jewish players hailing from 15 countries. [JTA]

• Once strong Zionists, the Irish now tend to find themselves in the Palestinians’ corner. Why? [Foreign Policy]

• Ess-A-Pickle, late of the Lower East Side, has officially opened at its new digs in Boro Park, Brooklyn. [Forward]

• Kalmen Opperman, “the elder statesman of the clarinet,” died at 90. [NYT]

I’ve never seen it described this way, but you tell me that the house band at the Mos Eisley Cantina doesn’t sound like some sort of klezmer-jazz fusion.

Move Further Buffs Petraeus’s Reputation

General stirred controversy with ‘linkage’ remarks

President Obama and General Petraeus yesterday.(Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Yesterday, President Obama appointed Gen. David Petraeus—onetime top general in Iraq, then top general for all operations in the Middle East and Central Asia—to head the U.S. military’s effort in Afghanistan after Gen. Stanley McChrystal was sacked for semi-insubordinate comments reported in Rolling Stone. Slate’s Fred Kaplan, usually a military analyst worth reading, calls it an impeccable choice.

Tablet Magazine has covered Petraeus several times over the past few months. Depending on what you believe Petraeus said, he either espoused the doctrine of “linkage,” which states that the continued irresolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict hinders America’s ability to achieve its national security goals in the region, such as withdrawing from Iraq and Afghanistan and preventing Iran from going nuclear; or he argued that anger in the Arab world over the Palestinian situation is one of many factors that, in his own words, “foment anti-American sentiment,” “gives Iran influence,” and helps Al-Qaeda and like-minded groups “mobilize support.”

Meanwhile, argued David P. Goldman, Jewish conservatives, for whom Petraeus tends to be something of a hero, should have bashed the general’s remarks in a ploy for Jewish votes.

Although this latest move has further raised Petraeus’s stature (if that were possible) and further confirmed him the most broadly respected American general since Eisenhower, it has arguably lowered his influence, at least day-to-day. He will go from managing CENTCOM, which is in charge of the region that includes Israel, Sudan, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and more, to managing Afghanistan, just one country in that region. This job transfer is a compliment to Petraeus, yet another feather in his cap … and, technically, a demotion.

Petraeus: A Surprising Yet Obvious Choice [LAT]
McChyrstal: Gone and Soon Forgotten [Slate]
Related: Linked In [Tablet Magazine]
Earlier: What Petraeus Actually Said

Elena Kagan’s Jewish Jokes

We know she has some; tell us what they are!

Maybe she was telling Sen. Mark Warner one of her great jokes!(Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty Images)

As part of the circus that is the Supreme Court confirmation process, all of nominee Elena Kagan’s emails from her time in the White House have been made public and organized online. Read ‘em all, if that’s your thing.

Two of those emails contain the subject line, “Re: Two G-rated Jewish jokes.” But the content of the emails has been lost, making this the most compelling White House lacuna since the 18-and-a-half minutes.

So, readers, we put it to you! What do you think the two G-rated Jewish jokes were? Remember to keep it clean: They need to be okay for listeners under the age of 13.

Bork Borks Over Barak

Kagan had praised controversial Israeli chief justice

Robert Bork.(Wikipedia)

Who better to bork a U.S. Supreme Court nominee than Robert Bork? The conservative judge called for the U.S. Senate to reject Elena Kagan’s nomination to the bench on the grounds of her prior praise for Aharon Barak, the onetime chief justice of the Israeli Supreme Court whom conservatives disparage for his judicial activism. In a conference call organized by the anti-abortion group Americans United for Life, Bork yesterday called Barak “the worst judge on the planet” and said that Kagan’s past stance on him—introducing him at an event, she called him “my judicial hero”—is “disqualifying in and of itself.”

The Orthodox Union’s political maven Nathan Diament offered a different take in an email blast: “It is certainly true,” he wrote,

that Chief Justice Barak was a proud and aggressive judicial activist who led the Israeli Supreme Court into making decisions many questioned—and we were among the many doing so.

But it is also true that Kagan praised Barak in the course of introducing him to an audience at the Harvard Law School—when she was Dean—isn’t that typical social convention? Event [sic] current U.S. Supreme Court Justice Scalia did the same for Justice Barak.

On a related note, want to read every email Kagan received while she was working in the White House in 1999? Of course you do! Check out Elena’s Inbox.

Bork Hits Kagan Over Israeli Judge [Politico]

Israeli Minister Threatens War Over Gas Fields

Why energy is the new Golan

The Golan Heights.(Flickr)

After a prominent Lebanese politician asserted that part of a prodigious, newly discovered natural gas field stretches into his country’s territorial waters, a top Israeli official vowed today to defend the energy resources off Israel’s northern coast. “We will not hesitate to use our force and strength,” declared Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau, a member of the right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu party, “to protect not only the rule of law but the international maritime law.”

Three fields, and particularly the “Leviathan” site discovered earlier this month, are estimated to be able to turn Israel into a net energy exporter.

Yesterday, Tablet Magazine columnist Lee Smith predicted that Israel’s newfound energy resources could be the spark that lights what many consider to be an inevitable second round of the 2006 Lebanon war. A member of Hezbollah’s executive council told Smith, “If Lebanon needed to pile up hundreds, thousands of rockets to protect our sovereignty, dignity, and hydraulic resources, then the need to protect our hydrocarbon assets motivates us to enhance the Resistance’s capacities.” Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, a Hezbollah ally, added to Smith, “The arms of the Resistance are crucial for defending Lebanon’s offshore petroleum resources.”

For years, according to Smith, Hezbollah has justified its armed presence with reference to the Shebaa Farms, “an insignificant piece of land in the Golan Heights.” “The natural gas fields,” Smith notes, “are Shebaa on steroids.”

Landau: We Will Defend Gas Field [JPost]
Related: The Next Lebanon War

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