Israeli Organ Policy May Be D.O.A.

Innovative idea could discriminate against sect


In an effort to raise its quite low 10 percent organ-donor rate, Israel has been planning to give those who agree to be donors a leg up when it comes to receiving organ donations. They would move up in the queue, in other words, should it ever come to that.

While bioethicists say this is perfectly kosher—“reciprocal altruism” is the apparently not-oxymoronic term—the plan has come under fire for allegedly discriminating against some ultra-Orthodox Jews who believe they are religiously barred from being donors. (Never mind that they’re not, assuming the organs are being used to save a life and not for profit.) Specifically, Rabbi Yosef Sholom Elyashiv’s 100,000 Israeli followers believe they are not allowed to donate their organs until after cardiac death (at which point the organs are dead, too). In case you were wondering, yes, they are allowed to accept donated organs.

The Knesset has passed a law enacting this whole thing. Implementation, however, is up to the health minister … there is no health minister currently, so instead it is up to the deputy health minister … the deputy health minister is—of course—an Elyashiv follower. So, we’ll see.

Does Radical New Way To Boost Organ Donation Discriminate Against Ultra-Orthodox Jews? [AP/Vos Iz Neias?]
Earlier: Israel’s New Organ Donor Policies

More Dubai Murder Details Emerge

Hamas official was not supposed to be suffocated

The lobby of the fateful Dubai hotel.(Bustan Rotana)

There’s no more proof that the Mossad was indeed behind the January 19 assassination of Hamas weapons procurer Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai. But there are nonetheless several interesting nuggets in this Los Angeles Times article about the Dubai police force’s “mixture of high-tech razzle-dazzle and old-fashioned investigative work.”

• Al-Mabhouh’s death was supposed to look like a heart attack—the door’s inner latch was set; the room was tidy; he was found splayed on the floor with no immediately visible marks—and was almost mistaken for one, until one doctor spied something fishy in his blood.

• The muscle relaxant the assassins used was probably supposed to do the job by itself—in high enough doses, it mimics cardiac arrest within 15 minutes. The fact that al-Mabhouh was also suffocated by a pillow suggests, says one investigator, that the assassins “were panicking for one reason or another.”

• The Dubai police employed sophisticated facial recognition software to the video of the assassins.

• The doors to almost all rooms at the hotel at which al-Mabhouh was staying are visible from the central atrium.

• Authorities believe one of the assassins knew al-Mabhouh—hence, there was no evidence of forced entry.

• Authorities are now taking a fresh look at the 2001 death of Palestinian activist Faisal Husseini in Kuwait in light of the al-Mabhouh revelations.

The article implicitly assumes that because al-Mabhouh’s death has definitively been established as murder, and almost as definitively established as Mossad-backed, then it failed. But one could also argue that the Mossad—which has not (and surely will not) either confirmed nor denied involvement—gains some benefit from having the world think it is able to do this. Anyway, if an operation that achieved its primary mission and resulted in zero apprehensions is a failure, then success must be very sweet indeed.

How Dubai Unraveled a Homicide, Frame By Frame [LAT]
Related: Murder in Dubai

Flier Calls Anti-Handgun Jews ‘Bagel Brain’

Group calls gun control ‘racist’

(The Simpsons)

A state senator and a state delegate in Maryland who are co-sponsoring a tough gun-control bill both happen to be Jewish, so they have attracted the ire of Jews for the Preservation of Firearm Ownership. The Wisconsin-based group’s self-appointed mission is “educating the Jewish community about the historical evils that Jews have suffered when they have been disarmed”—presumably the Holocaust could have been averted if only shtetl-dwellers had more AK-47s? Anyway, JPFO has mailed around charming fliers about the bill, including to these politicians’ homes, headlined, “Bagel Brain Jews Want Your Bullets and Your Guns.”

The state senator represents Montgomery County, the tony suburb north-northwest of Washington, D.C. I don’t know about elsewhere, but as a MoCo native myself, I can tell you that the (many many) Jews there have pretty little to fear beyond not being able to get a Saturday 8 pm reservation at a decent Bethesda restaurant, and I don’t see how guns could help that.

Anti-Semitic Flier Takes Aim at Md. Lawmakers for their Gun Bill [AP/Baltimore Sun]

Imaginary Animals, Really Kosher

New book profiles fantastic creatures

Both Behemoth (top) and Leviathan (bottom) are kosher.(William Blake, courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Ever been to a restaurant, and you see something imaginary on the menu—roasted Jabberwock, say, or braised Ent with balsamic vinaigrette—and you don’t know if you can order it or not because you don’t know if it’s kosher? Now, there’s a new book that will tell you: The Kosher Guide to Imaginary Animals.

Basically, Ann and Jeff VanderMeer have done extensive research (no, but really) into both fictional creatures and the laws of kashrut to determine whether 34 imaginary animals are kosher or not. Only seven are, including the biblical Behemoth, Leviathan, and Ziz. (Jewcy took a look at a few of these as well a couple months ago.)

Oh, and if you want to learn a bit more about mythical animals from Jewish folklore—presumably they are more likely not to be trayf, right?—Tablet Magazine had the skinny on several last Halloween.

It’s the Monster Manual With Manischewitz [i09]

Related: The Kosher Guide to Imaginary Animals [Jewcy]
A Very Hebrew Halloween [Tablet Magazine]

Today on Tablet

Shulevitz on the Sabbath, allergic over-reaction, and more


Today in Tablet Magazine, contributing editor Judith Shulevitz explores the Sabbath, the subject of her new book, for our Vox Tablet podcast series. Marjorie Ingall suggests that Passover—the holiday of freedom—not be a time of over-caution and overprotective parenting when it comes to potential food allergies. Josh Lambert rounds-up forthcoming books of interest. And The Scroll rounds-up everything else that needs rounding-up.

U.S.-Israel Relations Hit Nadir

Fallout from last week’s East J’lem announcement continues


You thought it was over? You thought everyone had forgotten the Israeli Interior Ministry’s announcement last Tuesday, right after Vice President Joe Biden arrived in the country, that it will build 1,600 new homes in East Jerusalem? Not a chance. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu again apologized for the timing; however, he also stood by continued Israeli building in East Jerusalem. And a senior U.S. official confirmed that this has been “the first time the U.S. has really pushed back hard.”

The whole matter is important enough—proximity talks! peace in the Middle East! the U.S.-Israeli relationship! Hillary Clinton reprimanding Netanyahu for 45 frickin’ minutes!—that the whole thing deserves its own Monday morning mega-round-up. So:

• AIPAC called on the Obama administration to “defuse” tensions with Israel: “The administration should make a conscious effort to move away from public demands and unilateral deadlines.” [Press Release/Ben Smith]

• Not one of Netanyahu’s 30 ministers—including members of the center-left Labor Party—supported a total settlement freeze, including in East Jerusalem. [JPost]

• Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren told other Israeli diplomats that the U.S.-Israeli relationship has reached its lowest level in 35 years. [Haaretz]

• On Meet the Press, top Obama political adviser David Axelrod described the announcement as an “affront” and an “insult.” [AP/Vos Iz Neias?]

• Defense Minister Ehud Barak said it was “not intentional, but was nonetheless unnecessary and damaging.” [Ynet]

• The U.S. State Department formally summoned and reprimanded Oren. [Ynet]

• U.S. envoy George Mitchell is headed to the region this week, and Netanyahu is headed to Washington, D.C., at the beginning of next for the AIPAC summit. President Barack Obama actually will be around while Bibi is there. [Laura Rozen]

• Influential columnist Thomas L. Friedman laments that Biden didn’t leave Israel immediately after the announcement, though not before relaying the following message to Israel:

Friends don’t let friends drive drunk. And right now, you’re driving drunk. You think you can embarrass your only true ally in the world, to satisfy some domestic political need, with no consequences? You have lost total contact with reality. Call us when you’re serious. We need to focus on building our country. [NYT]

Daybreak: Jordan Wants More Palestinians

Plus Le Pen’s good day, go Vols, and more in the news

National Front leader Jean-Marie Le Pen.(Wikimedia Commons)

• Last decade, thousands of Palestinians were stripped of Jordanian citizenship. Jordan’s government wants to maximize the Palestinians’ numbers to improve their bargaining position vis-à-vis Israel. [NYT]

• U.S. officials continued to criticize Israeli building in East Jerusalem. Prime Minister Netanyahu apologized again for the construction announcement’s timing while maintaining support for the settlements. My 10 am post will have much more. [LAT]

• While the main victors in France’s regional elections were leftist parties, Jean-Marie Le Pen’s ultra-right National Front won a higher-than-expected 12 percent. Among other provocations, Le Pen has minimized the Holocaust. [JPost]

• The IDF chief-of-staff is in Turkey on a fence-mending visit. [Haaretz]

• Even as U.S. officials assert no tolerance for Iranian nuclear weapons, America has already, quietly, initiated containment policies. [NYT]

• The 2010 NCAA basketball tournament bracket was announced. Maccabi USA Head Coach Bruce Pearl’s Tennessee Volunteers drew a six seed and will play San Diego State Thursday evening. [ESPN]

Sundown: Hillary Gets Tough

Steinhardt’s settlement and resettlement plan, and more

The Hurva synagogue.(WSJ)

• Secretary of State Clinton chewed out Prime Minister Netanyahu over the East Jerusalem announcement (and Tablet Magazine contributing editor Jeffrey Goldberg approves). [Ynet]

• But one experienced observer predicts that such rebukes will be the beginning and end of U.S. response: “for this very busy president, the Arab-Israeli issue now has little to do with his stock at home. Frankly, it isn’t even the most important priority in the region.” [Politico]

• Birthright co-founder Michael Steinhardt has an idea—involving significant reparations as well as resettlement—for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. [WSJ]

• A survey found that nearly half of Israeli high-schoolers would refuse to evacuate West Bank settlements as soldiers and believe Israeli Arabs do not merit the same rights as Israeli Jews. [Haaretz]

• A good long look at the Hurva, the grand 300-year-old synagogue in Jerusalem’s Jewish Quarter, which is about to be rededicated after extensive restoration. [WSJ]

• Jon Stewart on Biden’s trip to Israel:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
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U.S. Backs Corrie Family Suit

Sister says a U.S. official encouraged it

Rachel Corrie’s parents(Wikimedia Commons)

In a pretty epic case of burying the lede (though it is in the headline), Haaretz published a profile of Sarah Corrie Simpson, the sister of Rachel Corrie, while waiting until the penultimate paragraph to reveal the real scoop: that (according to Simpson) an unnamed U.S. government official encouraged the Corrie family to sue the Israeli government over her sister’s death (which it did, last month)—was, in fact, the first person or entity to do so.

Rachel Corrie, then 23, was killed in 2003 by an Israeli bulldozer while protesting in Gaza. The facts in dispute concern whether Corrie’s death took place in an active combat zone, and how visible Corrie made herself to the bulldozer’s driver. An Israeli probe cleared the driver and the authorities; the Corries, as well as U.S. authorities, don’t fully buy it. The civil trial is currently going on in Haifa District Court.

Corrie’s Sister to Haaretz: U.S. Encouraged Family to Sue Israel [Haaretz]

Get Into Girls in Trouble

Friend of Tablet set to go on tour


Faithful Vox Tablet listeners know that musician Alicia Jo Rabins heads the band Girls in Trouble, which performs her indie-rock song cycle about Biblical women. The band is about to set off on a month-long tour, which will take them to Pittsburgh, Chicago, St. Louis, and many points in between, before landing them back at Cake Shop, on the Lower East Side, in late April. (For full dates, see here.) I mention this because this won’t be the last you hear of Rabins and Girls in Trouble on The Scroll before the tour is through.

Meanwhile, do enjoy Rabins’s take on this week’s Parsha. Gives you a good sense of what her music’s like. And I would challenge you to find a more pleasant way to spend four pre-Shabbat minutes.

Parshat Vayakhel from

More Torah cartoons at

Related: Female Trouble

‘The Millionaire Matchmaker’ Comes to NYC!

Bravo’s resident Yenta on the next season

Stanger earlier this week.(Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images)

Game-changer: For the next season of The Millionaire Matchmaker, host Patti Stanger is taking her show, currently Los Angeles-based, to the Big Apple. (Allison Hoffman recaps each episode every Wednesday on The Scroll.) “Yeah, New York is harder,” she tells New York’s Vulture blog. “Yes, you walk and you get sweaty, and you’re in the freezing cold with your parkas—how is he going to see the sea of assets?” Stanger intends to get around this obstacle by thinking outside the box—or, in this case, the borough. “You go to the fucking suburbs! You go to Westchester, you go to Long Island, you go to Jersey, you look around! Guys in Jersey buy fucking $4 million houses! My sister met her husband at Cold Spring Harbor. What happened to the outskirts of New York?”

God help us when she finds out about Brooklyn.

Vulture Is Undressed by ‘The Millionaire Matchmaker’ [Vulture]

Earler: The Scroll on ‘The Millionaire Matchmaker’
Fellas: Heed the Millionaire Matchmaker

Lebanese Academic Suffers Friendly Fire

Violated boycott to oppose occupation


A Palestinian academic in Lebanon named Sari Hanafi—he teaches at the American University in Beirut—has come under fire for collaborating with two Israeli scholars on a book, in violation of a formal academic boycott of Israel’s academy and cultural institutions.

Here’s what’s odd. The two Israeli scholars are anti-Zionist. The book in question is called The Power of Inclusive Exclusion: Anatomy of Israeli Rule. And the book contains, according to the academic, “a detailed analysis of the ways in which Israel deploys technologies of power and systems of control to maintain its stranglehold over the Occupied Palestinian Territories. It is a book that concentrates on the illegality of the occupation regime.”

Fellas! The whole “strange bedfellows” thing works best if you let them stay the night!

Boycott and Madness [NOW Lebanon]

Foxman Bashes Israeli Announcement

Yes, you read right

Abraham Foxman.(Life)

In the journo-business, we call this Man Bites Dog: The Anti-Defamation League’s Abraham Foxman is blaming Israel for the “disaster”—his word—that was the announcement of new East Jerusalem construction during Vice President Joe Biden’s visit. According to Foxman, whether or not Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu knew the announcement was coming is beside the point: “It is the government of Israel that justifiably is held accountable for converting an optimal moment in U.S.-Israel relations into a moment of crisis.”

In his article, Foxman establishes that the announcement “couldn’t have been worse.” And he says—in apparent revision of what he told Haaretz earlier this week—that he fully understands the administration’s anger.

By the end, we are back in Dog Bites Man territory. Foxman concludes: “Ultimately, Palestinian unwillingness to compromise for peace and to stop the hate are the real obstacles to peace.”

After Biden’s Israel Contretemps, Stepping Back [Huffington Post]

Today on Tablet

The latest Woody Allens, a very taurine haftorah, and more


Today in Tablet Magazine, Staff Writer Marissa Brostoff discerns in a new novel and a new film the latest evolutionary stage of the schlemiel. For his weekly haftorah column, Liel Leibovitz graciously lent his space to a bull, and it pretty much goes from there. Maybe The Scroll needs more of a farm-animal presence?

Another Year, Another List of Rich People

Ellison, Bloomberg top Jews on ‘Forbes’ list

Larry Ellison, really into yachting last month.(Jaime Reina/AFP/Getty Images)

The big news from Forbes’s annual list of the world’s billionaires is that Planet Earth has a new richest man: Carlos Slim Helú, the Mexican telecommunications magnate who now owns a substantial minority share of The New York Times. He weighs in at $53.5 billion. Muchas felicitationes!

But you want to know where the Jews—say, those in the top 50—are. The short answer is: They’re down.

• The richest Jew, Oracle’s Larry Ellison, fell from fourth to sixth, and from $22.5 billion to … well, to $28 billion, but obviously you’d rather have the higher ranking than the extra $5.5 billion.

• New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg dropped further, from 17th to 23rd, and from $16 billion to $18 billion (no way you could trade me six slots for $2 billion). (more…)

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