Latin Immigrants Are The Twelfth Tribe

And we have an official NBA team!

Amar’e Stoudemire, in ‘Los Suns’ jersey, last night.(Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Those who oppose Arizona’s notorious new immigration law have argued that it is unconstitutional; discriminatory against all immigrants; and especially draconian when it comes to Latinos and Latin-Americans. In one of the most dramatic (and attention-grabbing) shows of protest, last night the NBA’s Phoenix Suns wore jerseys that said “Los Suns” in their playoff game against the San Antonio Spurs (they won).

Whatever my personal views, I felt The Scroll should not take a position on the law so long as it did not directly affect the Jews. But! Suns forward Amar’e Stoudemire disabused me of my people’s innocence on Twitter yesterday (via Deadspin). Quoth Amar’e:

Stoudemire’s Twitter handle, incidentally, is Amereisreal, which is one quick letter switch away from Amare Israel. Clearly one of the NBA’s great philo-Semites.

And you know what that means, folks? The most prominent Jewish baller whose team remains in the playoffs is Los Angeles Laker guard Jordan Farmar. But I think that the Phoenix Suns are now Tablet Magazine’s official NBA team!!! (They even have the same orange hue as our official NCAA team, the Tennessee Volunteers.) ¡Vaya Suns!

Amar’e Is Against Arizona’s Immigration Bill Because The Jews Have Suffered Enough [Deadspin]

Daniel Handler Mixes A Drink

Getting ready for Dawn 2010


Daniel Handler will be among the presenters at Dawn 2010, the Tablet-sponsored late-night cultural arts festival going down in honor of Shavuot on the evening of Saturday, May 15 in San Francisco. Handler, who is best known for writing the A Series of Unfortunate Events books under the pseudonym Lemony Snicket, will be presenting on cocktails. In fact, it’s entirely possible he’ll be drinking them, too. He told me:

Bryan Ranere, bartender extraordinaire, will be joining me onstage as we examine the intersection between Jewish culture and cocktail culture, by presenting various Jewish issues and anxieties and mixing the cocktail that will allay them. Volunteers from the audience will be invited onstage to sample the cocktails and the anxieties. I never like to promise that a good time will be had by all, but I will promise that I will have a very, very good time.

When asked if he’s ever stayed up late on Shavuot to study before, he replied, “To ‘study’? I can’t tell if that’s a euphemism.”

Well, first time for everything, then! He is most looking forward, he said, to “swooning in the presence of Sandra Bernhard, lurking in a corner with Gary Shteyngart, and seeing if I recognize anyone from Camp Swig.”

Israel Refuses Entry to Famed Clown

And Spain isn’t laughing

An unhappy clown.(Flickr)

Ivan Prado might be “the most famous clown in Spain”—whatta title!—but that wasn’t enough to prevent Israel’s security force from barring his entry to Israel. Prado arrived at Ben-Gurion International Airpot last month along with a female “Spanish national of Arab origin,” with plans to travel to Ramallah for an international clown festival (!). After interviewing him and his companion repeatedly about possible connections to terrorist organizations, Shin Bet decided to refuse their entry to the country. It’s now turned into a minor diplomatic incident with Spain.

Shin Bet Deports Spain’s Most Famous Clown Upon Arrival in Israel [Haaretz]

Today on Tablet

Lights, camera, funding, and more


Today in Tablet Magazine, Staff Writer Marissa Brostoff reports on the battle to fund the annual San Francisco Jewish Film Festival in light of money shortfalls and a controversial documentary about the dead pro-Palestinian activist Rachel Corrie. Shalom Auslander knows which other daily activity most resembles writing, and it ain’t pretty. Ellen Umansky profiles Alain Cohen, a Tunisian-Jewish chef who has set up a popular kosher joint in L.A. The Scroll desperately wants to try his (presumably non-pork) andouille sausage.

Typical American Jews Speak About Israel

Why did NYT reporter schlep to Michigan?


The New York Times today did what it does every month or two and published an article about Jews that is all but guaranteed to shoot to the top of its Most Emailed list (if it hasn’t already). This one is about a familiar topic: The disconnect between American Jews and Jewish-American institutional leaders on the subject of Israel. The leaders have vociferously criticized the Obama administration for its harsh treatment of Israel in the past couple months; but many American Jews find themselves agreeing with the criticisms and aligning with upstart J Street, prominently featured in the article. While Obama’s approval rating has probably plummeted among the leaders, it has been basically constant among all American Jews. The article reports:

A newly outspoken wing of Israel supporters has begun to challenge the old-school reflexive support of the country’s policies, suggesting that one does not have to be slavish to Israeli policies to love Israel.

The article concerns all American Jews, but it is datelined “FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich.” In other words, the Times’s religion correspondent traveled to this Detroit suburb for the piece. He gathered a focus group consisting of non-participating members of Birmingham Temple, a secular humanistic synagogue there, in order to ask them about Israel and get a response from “the demographic middle.” I was curious why the author went here, and not somewhere else. Are Farmington Hills and Birmingham Temple representative of American Jews generally? Unrepresentative? Turns out, probably a bit of both. (more…)

Daybreak: Bibi and George Break Bread

Plus a new Dubai murder development! and more in the news

Netanyahu and Mitchell yesterday.(Matty Stern/U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv via Getty Images)

• Prime Minister Netanyahu and U.S. envoy George Mitchell met yesterday (and will meet today) to discuss the proximity talks’ ground rules. President Abbas will have his chance to agree to them Saturday. [WP]

• Sorry I missed this yesterday, but an editorial notes that the administration’s pressure on Israel accomplished little to nothing, and calls on it to focus on getting the two sides talking to each other. [WP]

• British elections are today. Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg tells a reporter that he cares deeply for British and Israeli Jews; is against cultural sanctions and Britain’s participation in Durban 2; but also questions the Gaza blockade. [Haaretz]

• There are five more suspects in the Dubai murder of Hamas weapons man Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, so 32 total. Plus, there might be a New Zealand connection! [WSJ]

• Comments from the new head of the International Atomic Energy Association seem to presage a firmer stance on Iran. [WP]

• The Czech Republic’s foreign minister told President Peres that Israel should follow Czechoslovakia’s two-state lead. Oh, okay! [JPost]

Sundown: NYT On The Jews. Discuss.

Plus the Jordan Riverbed, and more

The Jordan River.(Flickr)

• Four people have probably already emailed this to you, but the Times reports on the Israel-related disconnect between American Jews and American-Jewish institutional leaders. The article fails to mention J Street, though. Just kidding! [NYT]

• In a similar vein, J.J. Goldberg argues that the silent majority of American Jews is getting drowned out. [Haaretz]

• An environmental group warns that the stretch of the Jordan River from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea is in danger of drying out. Between Israel, Jordan, and Syria, 98 percent of river water is diverted. [JTA]

• Yuri Foreman: The ESPN profile. [ESPN]

• Prime KO, a Japanese joint on the Upper West Side “where kosher aspires to be cool,” opens. [City Room]

• Jewish Funds for Justice, which initiated a Gulf Coast charity after Hurricane Katrina, is asking for donations related to the oil spill. [Jewish Funds for Justice]

Check out Deputy Editor Gabe Sanders’s interview with Chilean-American author Ariel Dorfman from the PEN festival.

What To Say Before Eating Turkey

For when you can’t recall the right brucha

An iBless Food screenshot.(Macworld)

Yup, for that, too. iBless Food is an iPhone application that tells you which Jewish prayer to say before eating a given type of food. And lets you hear ‘em!

I want an app that tells me to just say the Motzi and be done with it.

What’s The Blessing for Sushi? There’s an App for That … iBless Food [appModo]

Marital Relations


A sex joke, but not too dirty. At least in the usual sense.

The Ties That Bind

Where the U.S.-Israel alliance remains strong

Gates and Barak, best friends forever!(Win McNamee/Getty Images)

U.S.-Israel relations have been a bit of a roller coaster of late. First, after the East Jerusalem settlement announcement coincided with Vice President Biden’s visit, things went way down; now, following the “charm offensive,” they seem to be back up. And who knows what tomorrow will bring.

However, notes a valuable Wall Street Journal report, throughout this whole time, relations between the two countries’ defense and intelligence establishments have been consistent—consistently improving. The United States is selling Israel ever more sophisticated military technology. Intelligence-sharing has increased, particularly where halting Iranian arms shipments is concerned. And Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Defense Minister Ehud Barak are basically BFFs at this point.

Three main factors explain the close cooperation:

• Even if you buy into the concept of “linkage” (and Tablet Magazine’s Lee Smith believes you shouldn’t), the two countries’ interests, particularly vis-à-vis Iran and its proxies in Damascus and Hezbollah, remain largely aligned.

• A stable region depends on the perception that the United States has Israel’s back; if Israel appears overly weak, that is more likely to invite attacks from its enemies.

• Israel is less likely to take military action against Iran—which many U.S. military and diplomatic leaders don’t want to see happen—if it feels its security is guaranteed by America.

The two-track nature of the alliance is reminiscent of what happened a couple months ago, while Israel was sustaining a bad bout of P.R. due to the general belief that it had assassinated Hamas weapons man Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai. No matter what the diplomats were saying, it seemed pretty clear that military and (especially) intelligence ties wouldn’t suffer. And, apparently, they didn’t.

U.S.-Israel Ties Remain Intact [WSJ]
Related: Linked In [Tablet Magazine]

Report from Venezuela

Eye-opening clip on Chávez regime’s anti-Jewishness


Great, great report below from HDNet about the Venezuela government’s affirmative desire to make life difficult for the several thousand Jews who live there. You see the ransacked Tiferet Israel congregation, the Sephardic synagogue vandalized last year shortly after Operation Cast Lead. You see the graffiti (“David I Shit On Your Star”—clever). You see one Jewish Venezuelan report of these acts, “It cultivates an atmosphere of fear against authority, of vulnerability.” And, perhaps most of all, you see every person asked explain that the regime of President Hugo Chávez is not a passive bystander to all this, but rather in many ways the active ringleader.

Watch the whole thing.

Earlier: Hugo Chávez’s Uses for Anti-Semitism

Eddy Portnoy Explains Nasalogy

Getting ready for Dawn 2010


Tablet Magazine contributing editor Eddy Portnoy will be among the presenters at Dawn 2010, the Tablet-sponsored late-night cultural arts festival going down in honor of Shavuot on the evening of Saturday, May 15 in San Francisco.

Portnoy will give a lecture on “nasalogy,” which is, as you etymologists probably guessed, the study of noses. (He’ll also be penning a column on the subject soon, so be on the look-out!) “It is a 19th-century pseudo-science that is an offshoot of phrenology—it was created by a phrenologist, in fact,” Portnoy told me, further describing it as “medical quackery.”

“And there’s a Jewish component!” he added. “As you’d expect.”

There are basically six main types of noses, and three of them are ethnic or nationally based: The Roman nose, the Greek nose, the Jewish nose. Then there’s the cogitative nose, which is actually the most desirable—deep thinkers have wide nostrils. Then there are the snub nose and the turned-up nose, neither of which are really desirable. What’s interesting about the Hebrew nose is it’s also known as the commercial nose—none of this is really a surprise—and if you have one, you are guaranteed an ability to do well in business.

Portnoy told me that he has never stayed up late for Shavuot, as tradition dictates, before. “I’m a person who tends to fall asleep very easily,” he confided. “But I should be able to survive it.”

Today on Tablet

All linkage all the time, and more


Today in Tablet Magazine, Mideast columnist offers a panorama of “linkage”: The notion (which is false, he argues) that several other regional conflicts could hinge on the outcome of Israeli-Palestinian dispute. The Frozen Rabbi keeps chugging along. And boy does The Scroll ever do the same.

Israel Fears Foreign Secretary Clegg

Left-wing politico may be top U.K. diplomat

Clegg campaigning in Liverpool, England, yesterday.(Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

The heated British elections are tomorrow, and with the out-of-nowhere Liberal Democrats still looking strong, Israeli officials have (unofficially) began to worry that, should neither the (leading) Conservative nor (incumbent but ailing) Labour Parties gain an outright majority of Parliamentary seats, one of the two will have to bring the Lib Dems into a coalition. And that, in turn, would likely make Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg—the most left-wing of the three major party leaders—the foreign minister. Much to the Israeli government’s chagrin.

Weeks ago, the Financial Times argued that Clegg (whom the Times profiled today) would likely be the foreign minister (or secretary of state, in American English). Junior coalition partners in other European countries frequently receive the foreign ministry. But new reports yesterday confirmed that the Lib Dems would demand six ministerial posts, including the Foreign Office, in exchange for serving as a coalition’s junior partner.

The problem, as Israel sees it, is that Clegg—potentially Britain’s chief diplomat—has severely criticized Israel over Operation Cast Lead and the subsequent Gaza blockade; at one point called on European countries to stop selling Israel weapons; and, maybe worst of all, is seen as overly soft on Iran. (Incidentally, a Clegg-run foreign ministry would also probably see a slightly less strong British-American alliance.)

As things stand now, the Tories have a decent chance at capturing an outright majority of Parliamentary seats, which would all but completely foreclose a major Lib Dem role in the government. However, if Tories fail to get a House of Commons majority (and if Labour, a longer shot, fails to as well), look for the Tories or Labour to secure the prime ministership by allowing a comparatively marginal party to run the country’s foreign policy. You know, like Israel’s government does.

A Worried Jerusalem Watches the Rise of Nick Clegg
Earlier: British Election Is Actually Kind Of Thrilling

Daybreak: Hopefully, They Didn’t Start the Fire

Plus de-linking ‘linkage,’ non-Ambassador Dershowitz, and more in the news

Professor Dershowitz in 1996.(Evan Agostini/Getty Images)

• Palestinian leadership warned that a West Bank mosque fire yesterday could threaten the planned proximity talks. Many Palestinians believe Israeli settlers lit the flame; Israeli authorities are not yet convinced the cause was arson. [NYT]

• Before departing New York, President Ahmadinejad pledged that new sanctions wouldn’t halt Iran’s nuclear development—though they will, he added, kill any chance at reconciliation with the United States. [WSJ]

• Both Egypt and Jordan argued that a nuclear-free Mideast, which a 1995 U.N. resolution calls for, would make dealing with Iran easier. The only (unofficially) nuclear state in the Mideast is, of course, Israel. [JPost]

• President Obama had lunch at the White House with Elie Wiesel yesterday, in what is being seens as the most blatant symbol yet of the administration’s “charm offensive” toward American Jews and Israelis. [NYT]

• More charm: An Obama national security official assured the Anti-Defamation League that the administration does not overly “link” the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to others in the region. [Jeffrey Goldberg]

• Israel reportedly tried and failed to convince Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz to make aliyah and serve as Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations. [JTA/Forward]

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