Israeli Arabs Join Palestinian Boycott

Are they all Palestinians now?

(Jerusalem Post)

It’s not really surprising to find Israeli-Arabs joining Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s call for a boycott of products made on Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Still, it is provocative to read the head of a committee in one Arab Israeli town identify Israeli Arabs as “part of the Palestinian people.”

The chairman of the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip—that’s itself something of a provocative name; there isn’t a Jewish community of the Gaza Strip anymore—accused the boycott of violating a 1994 agreement between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, and called on the Israeli government to use some of the money it transfers to the Palestinians each month to compensate settlers harmed by the boycott.

Notably, he affixed prime blame not on Abbas but on Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, whom many have welcomed for his emphasis on West Bank Palestinian autonomy. Part of autonomy, of course, means not having Jewish settlers in your midst, much less giving them business.

“What we are seeing here is a complete identification, and not for the first time, by the Arab population of Israel with the Palestinian Authority,” the Council chairman warned. Indeed.

Arab Israelis Boycott W. Bank Good [JPost]
Earlier: The Deceptively Controversial P.M.

Kirsch, Heidegger, and Némirovsky, Oh My!

Forthcoming ‘Book Review’ has items of interest


If the just-released podcast is any indication, this Sunday’s New York Times Book Review will have plenty of content near and dear to our hearts. It features Tablet Magazine books critic Adam Kirsch discussing his forthcoming review on the philosopher (and Nazi) Martin Heidegger, and novelist Francine Prose talking about Irène Némirovsky.

Kirsch reviewed the correspondence between Heidegger and Hannah Arendt (his lover!) in 2004 for, Tablet Magazine’s precursor.

Paul La Farge reviewed an earlier Irène Némirovsky biography for in 2006.

And Francine Prose discussed Anne Frank on a Vox Tablet podcast last year.

This NYT podcast is really good by the way. Not, you know, National Magazine Award-winning good, but good.

Book Review Podcast: Heidegger, Irène Némirovsky and Anti-Semitism [Arts Beat]

Is It a Boy or a Girl?

An old Jew tells a joke



Report: Goldstone Was An Apartheid Judge

U.N. report author sentenced 28 blacks to death

Richard Goldstone, late last year.(Jonas Ekstromer/AFP/Getty Images)

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.”

Judge Goldstone’s Dark Path [Ynet]
Related: Report Card [Tablet Magazine]

Josh Kun Makes a Mix Tape

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.

Today on Tablet

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.

Don’t Forget What’s On Sunday

Hint: Call your mother!

Sylvia Fine, a.k.a. The Nanny’s mother.(Wikipedia)

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.

Secrets of a Jewish Mother [Amazon]
Jewish Mother, R.I.P. [Forward]

Daybreak: Guess Who Invited Us To Dinner?

Plus Clegg primed for power, and more in the news

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki earlier this week.(Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images)

• 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]

Sundown: West Bank Fire Was Intentional

Plus Pinsky and the Boss, and more

The Boss.(Wikipedia)

• 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.’

Diagnosing Jerusalem Syndrome

It really does exist!

Homer in Jerusalem.(IGN TV)

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!

Jerusalem: The City That Drives People Mad [JTA]

I Want A Divorce!

An old Jew tells a joke


Holy hell.

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.

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