An old Jew tells a joke
An old Jew tells a joke
U.N. report author sentenced 28 blacks to death
This won’t exactly detract from the controversy of the Goldstone Report. Richard Goldstone is the (Jewish) South African jurist who conducted a report on the January 2009 Gaza conflict for the U.N. Human Rights Council, which found that the Israeli military (and Hamas) committed war crimes and, possibly, crimes against humanity. But, according to a new report from the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, as an apartheid-era appellate judge Goldstone sentenced at least 28 black defendants to death; sentenced others to a whipping; and even sentenced two black men for having a video tape showing a speech by an associate of Nelson Mandela.
In the report, Goldstone appears as a staunch defender of capital punishment, which whites typically supported and blacks typically opposed, and which was not abolished in South Africa until Mandela became president in 1995. Goldstone says he is a personal opponent of the death penalty, but felt compelled to apply the law of the land. According to the report:
Most of them were found guilty of murder and sought to appeal the verdict. In those days, [Goldstone] actually made sure he showed his support for the execution policy, writing in one verdict that it reflects society’s demands that a price be paid for crimes it rightfully views as frightening.
In another verdict, in which he upheld the execution of a young black man convicted of murdering a white restaurant owner after he fired him, Goldstone wrote that the death penalty is the only punishment likely to deter such acts.
And remember, folks: This was apartheid. The deck was likely stacked against these black defendants to begin with.
(One could imagine a psychologist diagnosing Goldstone with a severe case of guilt. Maybe doing the bidding of apartheid can be expunged by revealing the crimes of a subsequent state that many have accused of officially discriminating against an ethnic minority?)
Oh, and meanwhile: Did no one in the Israeli foreign ministry bother to do the kind of basic research on Goldstone that is usually assigned to first-year law students on their summer break? Sure looks that way.
In Israel, that hard question has not been broached, yet. Instead, the revelations have been greeted with a sense of vindication across the political spectrum. And Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz compared Goldstone’s defense to those of Joseph Mengele and others complicit in the Holocaust, who said they were just following orders. “Goldstone took a job as an apartheid judge,” he told an Israeli television station. “He allowed dozens of black people who were unfairly tried to be executed.”.
He added, “When you are in an apartheid country like South Africa, you don’t follow the law.”
Getting ready for Dawn 2010
Josh Kun, of the Idelsohn Society for Musical Preservation, crafted a special mix tape for 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. He talked to me about the cuts he selected:
Conceptually, I tried to do a mix of old, archival, vintage recordings, and mixed that in with some contemporary stuff that has been remixed, or is more fitting to a dance floor vibe. The Barry Sisters, Machito & his Afro-Cubans, mixing up to bands like Soulico, from Israel, as well as a kind of crazy, eight-minute, classic eighties house version of “Hava Negilah”. Plus a number of cuts from leading African-American artists that are on Black Sabbath, the compilation we’re releasing this July, which has traditional Jewish and Israeli tracks by African-American artists.
“Oh plus,” he added, “some really great Israeli psychedelic rock!” Trippy.
Below: Slim Gaillard’s “Dunkin Bagel,” a track from the mix.
Britain’s maybe-new top diplomat, and more
Today in Tablet Magazine, NPR journalist predicts that Liberal Democrat Nick Clegg—who after yesterday’s results looks likely to be Britain’s next foreign minister—is ushering in a new wave of an ever harsher British stance on Israel. Mya Guarnieri reports on the 2500 members of the South Lebanon Army, who fought alongside Israel but fled their country when Israel withdrew in 2000, and now remain in northern Israel pending political change north of the border. Prompted by his week’s haftorah, Liel Leibovitz considers what sort of religion he would start if he were one of the prophets. The Scroll is content with the religion it has.
Hint: Call your mother!
Mother’s Day is Sunday! (Consider yourself reminded. You’re welcome.) By pure coincidence, although probably not, last month Real Housewife of New York Jill Zarin published a maternally themed book called Secrets of a Jewish Mother.
Honestly, though—that is, not only because she’s my boss—what you really should read is Tablet Magazine Editor Alana Newhouse’s 2007 obituary for the Jewish Mother. Alana writes:
Between the 1920s and ’70s, the Jewish Mother emerged as a hallmark of American humor, a nearly foolproof ingredient for comedic success. As the bridge between the piety of Old World roots and the allure of New World desires, she embodied the essential conflict—and thus comedic potential—of acculturation. In her early years, she ruled every medium in American popular culture, with starring roles in the first family sitcom on both radio and television (Gertrude Berg’s Meet the Goldbergs) and in Al Jolson’s The Jazz Singer, the first feature film to include spoken dialogue. Indeed, the “historic first sound in any film,” as Antler notes, was a conversation between a Jewish mother and her child.
But the Jewish Mother’s career recently hit a rough patch from which she seemed unable to recover (see: Drescher, Fran). Although eyewitnesses have reported seeing small audiences of nervous WASPs giggling at the my-son-the-doctor!-would-it-kill-you-to-put-on-a-sweater?-oy-vey routine, critics and advocates alike agree that the past decade has seen almost no new, genuinely funny jokes about the Jewish Mother. …
… many real-life American women today are actually parenting like the stereotype, earning denigration as hover mothers, helicopters, smother mothers and more. The stereotype isn’t a stereotype anymore: We’re all Jewish mothers now.
And it’s not funny.
And, on that note, happy Mom’s Day! Promise I’ll comb my hair.
Plus Clegg primed for power, and more in the news
• Iran’s foreign minister hosted diplomats have all 15 members of the U.N. Security Council—including a U.S. representative (though not the top one)—for dinner at the Iranian mission’s Fifth Avenue house. [WP]
• In Britain, the Conservative Party gained a plurality but not a majority of seats—opening the door to a coalition government with Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrats (and a Lib Dem-run, maybe less Israel-friendly Foreign Ministry). [NYT]
• Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren is insisting to everyone that the lack of cameras or ceremony when Prime Minister Netanyahu visited the White House in March was, in fact, not a snub. [JTA]
• Because of increased building, particularly in Jerusalem, conditions on the ground have never been more challenging for establishing an eventual peace, according to a report. [WP]
• In Jerusalem, “there was not one party on Thursday but two”: The Palestine Writers Festival and the International Writers Festival of Israel both took place. [NYT]
• Max Palevsky, who amassed a fortune funding the start-up that became Intel and later was one of America’s biggest political fundraisers, died at 85. [NYT]
Plus Pinsky and the Boss, and more
• Israeli officials concluded that a fire at a West Bank mosque earlier this week—which the Palestinian Authority blamed on Jewish settlers—in fact likely was caused by arson. [AP/Haaretz]
• Later this month, Netanyahu will become the first Israeli prime minister to visit Canada since Yitzhak Rabin. [Arutz Sheva]
• Manhattan’s Union Square will be the site of a massive Sukkah competition this September. [Sukkah City]
• More on the new Dubai Murder Mystery suspects: One is an Israeli citizen who is wanted in New Zealand for passport fraud. [Haaretz]
• A New York-style deli settles down in the relatively exotic realm of … Tel Aviv. [Forward]
• Tonight, the unofficial poet laureate of New Jersey Bruce Springsteen and the onetime official poet laureate of the United States (and Nextbook Press author) Robert Pinsky will discuss Pinsky’s poem “Jersey Rain”. You get three guesses as to which state this event is taking place in. [INJersey]
‘And my machine, she’s a dud/She’s stuck in the mud/Somewhere in the swamps of Jersey.’
It really does exist!
Jerusalem Syndrome is actually a real thing. Visitors (and, less frequently, locals) really do occasionally find themselves believing they are characters from the Bible or messengers from God. Most frequent sufferers? Protestant tourists from the United States and Scandinavia. But Jews are not immune, either.
So whence the disorder? “Those who succumb are unable to deal with the concrete reality of Jerusalem today,” wrote the Israeli psychiatrist who coined it.
A gap appears between their subconscious idealistic image of Jerusalem and the city as it appears in reality. One might view their psychotic state and, in particular, the need to preach their universal message as an attempt to bridge the gap between these two representations of Jerusalem.
So, basically, if you go to Jerusalem wanting to make the imperfect city into a perfect utopia, then you suffer from Jerusalem Syndrome? Sounds a lot like George Mitchell to me! Ba-zing!
And we have an official NBA team!
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!
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.”
And Spain isn’t laughing
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.
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.
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…)
Plus a new Dubai murder development! and more in the news
• 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]
• 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]