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U.S. Universities Sold Out for Iranian Money

By hiring pro-Ahmadinejad professors, says ‘NY Post’

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The New York Post reports that a shady Iranian charity organization has been donating big bucks to Columbia University and Rutgers University to support the hiring of pro-Iran, anti-Israel faculty. The Alavi Foundation seems to have been under the thumb of Iran’s government and has also been found to have supplied money to Iranian spies in Europe; Federal authorities are now attempting to seize the organization’s funds, which total as much as $650 million.

Among the results of what Michael Rubin, an Iran expert at the American Enterprise Institute think tank, describes as “the ivory tower…prostituting itself for money” were Columbia’s hosting of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2007 and its hiring of Professor Gary Sick, who has expressed the following:

He [Mahmoud Ahmadinejad] made it very clear that, whether he is talking about ‘wiping Israel off the map,’ or ‘erased from the pages of time,’ or whatever the quote is, what he means is that there should be a free referendum among the peoples of the Palestine that existed to the partition in 1948 to vote about the kind of a government they should have. He is confident that, in a free vote, Israel and Israelis would lose that vote and it would turn out to be something else: a unitary state, probably run by the Palestinians.

Schools’ Iran $$ Pipeline [NYPost]

Today on Tablet

A new official, a political pontificator, books to check out, and schlock to avoid

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In this week’s edition of our podcast, Vox Tablet, Sara Ivry talks to “citizen diplomat” Stephen P. Cohen about the “need to reconceptualize the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as one in which there are no victors.” Allison Hoffman interviews Hannah Rosenthal, the newly appointed U.S. anti-Semitism envoy. Marjorie Ingall’s suggestions of what not to give your kids for Hanukkah include a “techno draydel” and plush mohel scissors. Josh Lambert reviews books on the spectrum of Zionism, poetry, music, and drama. And much more as always, here on The Scroll.

Daybreak: PLO Staves off Abbas Retirement

Plus a Hungarian bust, a German painting, and more in the news

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• The Palestine Liberation Organization’s Central Council plans to meet in December to authorize current Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to continue running the government along with Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, in order to stave off the problem of postponed elections and Abbas’s declaration that he will not seek another term. [WPost]
• Hungarian riot police busted a beer-hall meeting of the nation’s illegal neo-Nazi group Hungarian Guard. [JTA]
• Israel attacked two suspected weapons factories and a smuggling tunnel in Gaza on Sunday, wounding at least seven, to retaliate for rocket attacks; the night before, Hamas had declared that it would cease firing at Israel. [AP]
• A German auction house has halted the sale of a painting by Alexander Adriaenssen after an estate claimed it had belonged to a Jewish family who was forced by the Nazis to sell it. [AP]
• A used-car dealership in Colorado displays a large billboard depicting President Barack Obama in a turban and the words “PRESIDENT or JIHAD?”, “BIRTH CERTIFICATE, PROVE IT!”, and “WAKE UP AMERICA! REMEMBER FT. HOOD.” [AP]

Sundown: Jews Monkey, Horse Around

Plus prayers on a plane, old Amsterdam beats New Amsterdam, and more

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• A renegade monkey was spotted heading toward the Tampa Jewish Community Center, sending police on a search and forcing the Center’s day-care participants to stay indoors today; if it had been this primate, they might not have had a problem. [Tampa Bay Online]
• David Cohen, a 25-year-old jockey with the fourth most wins in the United States, says he’s an expert at “how to hit a horse properly” but dreams of someday owning a Jewish deli. [Forward]
• In other Jewish equestrian news, Bobby Frankel, a horse trainer who had a particularly successful relationship with the stable of Saudi Arabian Prince Khalid Abdullah, died at 68. [BloodHorse]
• Some rabbis advise that while flying, it’s better to pray in one’s seat rather than to arrange a minyan: “The airlines don’t like people congregating in the back of the plane any more,” said one. [JC]
• Job Cohen, the unfortunately-named mayor of Amsterdam, is the fourth Jew who has held the position since World War II, which, a blogger pointed out, is “a better record than New York.” [JTA]

Aviation Blues

Airline pulls magazine after wrongheaded Holocaust fashion shoot

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(NewStateman.com)

EasyJet, a British airline, has withdrawn all copies of its in-flight magazine after being contacted by the New Statesman, a London magazine, about a Holocaust Memorial fashion photo shoot in its latest edition. In a written statement reproduced by the newspaper, easyJet apologized for the spread, which was photographed without permission at the Peter Eisenman-designed “Field of Stelae,” the Holocaust memorial in central Berlin. The airline also quickly distanced itself from the publishing house that produces its magazine, saying that it “prides itself on bringing together a wide range of cultures and beliefs and is appalled by this insensitive and inconsiderate photo-shoot, the aim of which was to highlight some of Berlin’s iconic landmarks.”

Exclusive: easyJet Grounds In-flight Magazine After Holocaust Gaffe [New Statesman via The Awl]

Israel, Syria Ready to Re-start Talks

Except there’s no agreement on preconditions, or on potential mediator

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As prospects for peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority look increasingly grim, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is saying he’s open to reopening negotiations with Syria. And Bashar Assad, Syria’s prime minister, is saying he’s willing to resume talks as well. Good news, right? Not so fast. The first problem is, the two leaders are insisting upon different conditions for negotiations, as the Istanbul-based journalist Yigal Schleifer explains in The Faster Times: Assad wants indirect talks mediated by Turkey, which hosted the last round of negotiations between the two countries (they stalled last year). Netanyahu wants direct talks mediated by any country but Turkey, whose government has been increasingly critical of Israel since the Gaza War.

It’s further complicated by the fact that would-be mediators aren’t readily letting go of the chance to play peacemaker. Turkey still wants the job, as does France—Nicolas Sarkozy officially expressed his interest earlier this week. Netanyahu seems amenable, but that, says Foreign Policy Watch, is because Sarkozy won’t insist Israel give Syria the disputed Golan Heights, and, moreover, does not have the muscle to make either side follow through on much of anything. The government that really ought to mediate, the news analysis site argued, is President Barack Obama’s, which is not currently offering to do so. On the plus side, Schleifer noted, mediation offers from Croatia and Brazil are still on the table.

Istanbul Calling: Are Israel and Syria Ready to Negotiate? [The Faster Times]
Choosing the Right Broker [Foreign Policy Watch]

The Naches of Sex Studied

Berkeley symposium took a prurient look at Yiddish culture

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When we think about Yiddish culture, sex isn’t usually the first thing that springs to mind. But the folks behind this week’s conference “Sex and the Shtetl,” held at the Center for Jewish Studies at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, put the spotlight on the prurient.

Discussions included what the Jewish Telegraphic Agency calls the “almost erotic idealization of the comradeship and intimacy of the all-male worlds of the yeshiva, the bathhouse and the rebbe’s court”; Molly Picon’s cross-dressing; and the shame of single motherhood that led to the creation of a Jewish “baby-farming operation” in 19th century Vilna where mothers “acted as wet nurses for wealthier matrons while their own babies were spirited away and killed.” Also, Tablet Magazine contributing editor Eddy Portnoy, who recently wrote about a grisly sex crime culled from the 19th Century Yiddish press, spoke at the conference about “‘dowry farmers,’ Jewish men who married young women for their dowries, then left for the New World.” And Cantor Sharon Bernstein sang this dirty ditty: “I had a sister named Esther, her ____ was as deep as the Dniester, and when she ____ she’d say, ‘fester, fester.’” (To fill in JTA’s blanks, check out Tablet Magazine’s article on the myriad Yiddish terms for the female reproductive organs).

The three-day extravaganza ran in concert with a Yiddish film festival featuring screenings of films based on Isaac Bashevis Singer’s Yentl and S.Y. Ansky’s The Dybbuk. Naomi Seidman, director of the Center for Jewish Studies, pointed out the sexual politics inherent to each: “The fact that no one notices Yentl is a woman shows how effeminate Jewish men were considered compared to the Western European ideal of masculinity,” Seidman said. “Demonic possession of a woman by a man is a transgender dream we haven’t even begun to enact here in the Bay Area.”

Conference Explores Steamier Side of Shtetl Life [JTA]

Foxman, Ben-Ami Feud Over Palin

ADL, J Street leaders debate the meaning of ‘pro-Israel,’ and chutzpah

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It's ultimately all just more publicity for Palin's book.(Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

Earlier this week, Sarah Palin went on Nightline and told Barbara Walters that she disagreed with the Obama administration’s policy of pressuring Israel to freeze new construction in Jewish settlements on the West Bank, in part because “more and more Jewish people will be flocking to Israel in the days and weeks and months ahead.” On Wednesday, Jeremy Ben-Ami, the executive director of J Street, issued a statement accusing Palin of “pandering to her right-wing base.”

Anti-Defamation League chief Abraham Foxman didn’t appreciate that, and he last night he told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency’s Eric Fingerhut that Ben-Ami’s statement was “the height of chutzpah.” See, Palin’s statements might have been a “simplistic effort to be supportive of the Israeli government” but they were “clear and well-intentioned,” and, anyway, “all politics is pandering.” As for Ben-Ami, Foxman accused him of “attacking a celebrity for supporting Israel, but not in the way they want her to support Israel.” This morning, Ben-Ami responded with a long, sharply worded letter accusing Foxman of being “willing to go along with the defamation of a world-renowned (and Zionist) jurist”—Richard Goldstone—“who has asked tough questions about the Gaza War,” and also of trying to hijack the designation of “pro-Israel.” “You of course have every right to disagree with us. It’s a free country,” Ben-Ami wrote. “But you have no right to decide who is and who is not pro-Israel based on whether they agree with your views.” We’ll let you know if Foxman responds.

Foxman Blasts J Street on Palin, Questions Its ‘Pro-Israel’ Slogan [JTA]
Ben-Ami Responds to Foxman [JTA]

Tablet Today

Sniffing out threats and changing people’s minds

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Tablet Magazine columnist Etgar Keret tells of his heightened awareness of his Jewishness while on a visit to Eastern Europe. Hadara Graubart reports on an Israeli journalist who uses humor as a weapon against misconceptions about Israel. Liel Leibovitz reflects on a haftorah portion that puts ritual above all, and explains how a similar sentiment led him to New York from Israel. Stuart Klawans explores a documentary that downplays the dangers of anti-Semitism. And don’t forget The Scroll, which will inform and entertain you with updates throughout the day.

White House to Name Anti-Semitism Envoy Today

J Street member Hannah Rosenthal to fill post

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The White House is expected to formally announce today the appointment of Hannah Rosenthal, the 58-year-old former head of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and a member of J Street’s advisory council, as the State Department’s special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism, an ambassador-at-large position that falls under State’s human-rights portfolio. The position, which was established in 2004, has remained vacant since January, when its first and only holder, Gregg Rickman, who directed the Senate investigation on Holocaust assets and was also a former legislative affairs staffer at the Republican Jewish Coalition, retired with the Bush Administration.

Rosenthal Is Anti-Semitism Envoy Choice, Announcement Imminent [JTA]

This Week In Foreigners’ Takes on Settlement Expansion

China against; N.Y. pol Dov Hikind in favor

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Hikind at a cornerstone-laying in East Jerusalem on Wednesday.(NYTimes.com)

Curious about China’s stance on West Bank settlement expansion? Now you know: The Asian power is against it. Just days after President Obama visited China, that country’s foreign minister has criticized the planned construction of 900 new apartments in East Jerusalem, according to the Israeli paper Yediot Ahronot, a position in concert with the U.S. administration. Whether the move reflects a desire to stand united with Obama on freezing settlements or it reflects a desire to appease oil-exporting Middle Eastern countries is as yet unclear.

New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind, however, remains firmly supportive of settlement consturction. He told the New York Times this week that he wants to buy a new pad in East Jerusalem. On a visit to Israel with about 50 other Americans, Hikind said restricting where Jews can build homes “is segregation” and that Obama’s no-settlement-expansion position means Jews “cannot build a toilet” in the West Bank. There are many kinds of arguments a person could make against Hikind’s intended purchase, but given that Thanksgiving’s around corner (and that Hikind introduced the bathroom rhetoric in this case)—we’ll make a patriotic one: the American economy is still in the crapper, why not spend the dollars here?

China Criticizes New Israeli Move on Settlements [Ynet]
Real Estate Shopping Is Used as Political Theater on Jerusalem’s Contested Ground
[NYT]
Hikind Steps Into West Bank Settlement Row With Housing Plan [Jewish Week]

Daybreak: Another Intifada

Plus U.S. Nazi hunting, a foiled plot in Yemen, and more in the news

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• Fatah officials told a Palestinian newspaper that they plan to implement a third intifada against Israel using demonstrations instead of violence; some speculate that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas may have decided to step down in part to facilitate the uprising. [Haaretz]
• The Simon Wiesenthal Center gives the United States an “A” for being responsible for 37 of 82 legal actions against suspected Nazis since 2001. [LAT]
• Security forces in Yemen arrested three Shi’ite rebels on a mission to assassinate the leader of the nation’s tiny Jewish community. [JPost]
• South African-Israeli philanthropist Mendel Kaplan, who founded the Jewish Studies center at the University of Cape Town and the South African Jewish Museum, has died at 73. [Haaretz]

Sundown: I Dip, You Dip, We Dip

Mikvehs for all, ‘TNR’ bashing, and the plight of the ‘half-Jew’

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• Mikvehs, ritual baths traditionally used for conversion or by observant women after their periods, are becoming more amenable to “alternative immersions” for occasions such as a birthday, a divorce, or an empty nest. Cheap spa day! [JC]
Nation columnist Eric Alterman lets loose a screed against editor of The New Republic, Marty Peretz, whose sins include the magazine’s “purposeful weakening of the bond between Israel and liberal American Jews—which is most of them—which derives from the constant stream of insults it spews at those who dare to disagree with Peretz’s hawkish prejudices.” [Nation]
• A blogger bemoans the treatment given to “half-Jews”: “[E]ither our interfaith parents must raise us as a ‘real Jews,’ in a very draconian manner—no Christmas trees or Rastafari posters! Every trace of our “non-Jewish” parent’s heritage to be banished from the house!—or … we were to be treated as ‘non-Jews’ who must convert.” [Jewcy]
• And the award for the most hackneyed list of Christmas gifts for Jews goes to Nashville Scene; suggestions include a Mel Gibson punching bag (the invention of which would “result in Jews stampeding into Walmart on Black Friday”) and a Chinese restaurant gift certificate (“You must’ve seen this one coming from miles away.” Yup). [NS]

AP Cuts Staff in Jerusalem, West Bank

As part of organization-wide layoffs

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Among the layoffs this week at the Associated Press: One reporter in Jerusalem and another in the West Bank, we’re told. The news service is cutting dozens of positions in an effort to cut staffing costs by 10 percent worldwide. Rumor is that reporter Steve Weizman has been let go from the AP’s Jerusalem bureau (which remains relatively large) and that another staffer has been laid off in Nablus, one of a handful of reporters in the Palestinian territories. AP spokesman Paul Colford told Tablet Magazine he couldn’t confirm or deny whether the cuts had been made, but an email sent to Weizman’s AP address bounced back.


The AP Layoffs, from Bismarck to Beijing
[Gawker]

Canada’s Conservatives Suggest Liberals Are Anti-Semites

Or so Liberal leaders claim

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(Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images)

In advance of the Canadian national elections that will likely be held sometime soon, the country’s currently-in-power Conservative party is sending mailers to households in heavily Jewish districts that claim Conservatives have a monopoly on pro-Israel sentiment—and, opposition Liberals say, strongly imply that their own party is anti-Semitic. The fliers accuse Liberal MPs of participating in “Durban I” (the 2001 U.N. conference on racism that’s long been a target of the pro-Israel right), and of being reluctant to classify Hamas and Hezbollah as terrorist groups, the Globe and Mail reports. They also call out Michael Ignatieff, the public intellectual-turned-Liberal party leader, for accusing Israel of war crimes in Lebanon in 2006.

The Liberals (along with other opposition parties, the Bloc Quebecois and the New Democratic Party) have fired back, with Montreal Liberal M.P. Irwin Cotler, who’s Jewish, calling the mailers “totally misleading … it basically seeks to associate the Liberal party with anti-Semitism,” according to the Toronto Star. But the Conservatives have effectively shaped the Canadian political discourse on Israel, and the Liberals they’ve attacked—including Cotler and other Jewish parliamentarians—are denying or taking back any criticism of Israel they’ve ever made. (Cotler says he only went to Durban to defend Israel and that he supported last winter’s Gaza war; Ignatieff apologized long ago for his “war crimes” comment; Liberals were in fact the first to classify Hamas and Hezbollah as terrorists.) The Conservative immigration minister, meanwhile, told reporters that anyone who’s read accusations of anti-Semitism into the fliers “is being completely over the top and mischievous.”

Opposition Decries Tory Attack Ads Sent to Jewish Voters [Globe and Mail]
PM’s Jewish Pitch Hits a New Low, Critics Say [Star]
Canadian Conservatives Woo Jews [Jewschool]

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