War of Words Continues Over British War-Crimes Warrants

IDF delegation cancels trip


Just when you thought it was safe for senior Israeli political and military officials to travel to Great Britain, a delegation of IDF officers canceled its trip for fear of being arrested on war-crimes warrants of the sort a court there issued against Tzipi Livni last month. The current situation makes it “difficult for the two countries to maintain a normal relationship,” Israel’s deputy foreign minister told British officials (in Jerusalem, wisely). One of those officials, a British attorney general (it has more than one), told a group at Hebrew University that Britain was committed to ensuring that current and former Israeli officials, and, more broadly, current and former Israeli soldiers—which is to say, most Israelis—could feel secure traveling to Britain. If commitments were horses …

Deputy FM: Arrest Warrants Harming Britain-Israel Ties [Haaretz]
British AG: Change Policy That Allows Arrest Warrants Against Israeli Leaders [Ynet]

Earlier: UK Court Issued Warrant for Livni

Why We Hate Her

The roots of Jewish anti-Palinism

Palin in Fairfax, Virginia, last month.(Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images)

Jennifer Rubin’s essay in Commentary (via Ben Smith) is titled, “Why Jews Hate Palin”. She provides a number of answers: the former Alaska governor’s staunch position against permitting abortion; false reports of her association with Patrick Buchanan; the sheer fact that Jews are mostly Democrats. There is more specific cultural correlation between Jews and Palin-haters, too: “American Jews are largely urban, clustered in Blue States, culturally sophisticated, with more years of college and postgraduate education than the average American,” Rubin points out. Finally, Rubin finds an explanation in the historic Jewish emphasis on learning:

Jews, who have excelled at intellectual pursuits, understandably are swayed by the notion that the presidency is a knowledge-based position requiring a background in the examination of detailed data and sophisticated analysis. … Palin’s intellectual unfitness in the eyes of Jews was exaggerated during the course of the campaign as they, like other Americans, received an incomplete image of her abilities and talents.

(Of course, an image may be incomplete but not inaccurate. Just saying.)

Responding to Rubin, David Frum has a different idea:

More than any politician in memory, Palin seems to divide her fellow-Americans into first class and second class citizens, real Americans and not-so-real Americans. To do her justice, she has never said anything to suggest that Jews as Jews fall into the second, less-real, class. But Jews do tend to have an intuition that when this sort of line-drawing is done, we are likely to find ourselves on the wrong side.

Then again, perhaps, as Frum puts it in  a throwaway line, Jewish attitudes toward Palin are “another manifestation of the old rule about Jews being like other people, only more so.” In 2008, 53 percent of voters went for Barack Obama; 78 percent of Jewish voters did so. It should be similarly unsurprising that most Jews disapprove of Palin—and disapprove of her like Ahab disapproved of the whale.

Why Jews Hate Palin [Commentary]
Do Jews Hate Palin? [FrumForum]

The Emanuel Progeny

You thought it ended with Rahm, Ari, and Zeke?


If, by now, you don’t know that Obama chief-of-staff Rahm Emanuel has an older and a younger brother, and that they’re all brilliant and kind of insane, and that the youngest, Ari, is the basis for Jeremy Piven’s character in Entourage, then you are probably not reading this post, because there are no computers under any of the rocks where you may reside. For the rest of us, it is time to meet Emanuel: The Next Generation—the children who over the coming decades will inspire and teriffy us with their genius, force of personality, and robust cursing.

The Daily Beast wants to frame the family as the Jewish Kennedys, with Rahm’s father Benjamin, who fought with the Jewish Irgun militia in pre-Israel Palestine, as the Joseph Kennedy-esque paterfamilias. The Jewish Kennedys would be over-achieving where the actual Kennedys were volatile; their most prominent member would possess behind-the-scenes rather than overt power. And certainly the Emanuels’ tendency to blow off steam by shouting at each other and inventing ever more clever uses of the f-word is a better, if not inherently more Jewish, option than the Kennedys’ less-healthy and-respectful methods of avoiding boredom.

Of the nine Emanuel grandchildren, the two older daughters of Ezekiel, a senior at Dartmouth and a burgeoning human-rights activist, are over 18. Two other cousins, meanwhile, are soon turning 13, and will celebrate their bar mitzvahs in Israel.

The Jewish Kennedys [The Daily Beast] (via Vos Iz Neias?)

Remembering Jean Carroll, Trailblazing Jewish Comedienne

Listen to one of Carroll’s classic bits

Carroll in 1953(Photofest)

Jean Carroll, one of the first women to make it as a solo stand-up comedian, died last Friday. Born Celine Zeigman in 1911, Carroll began her career in vaudeville, performing as a duo with her husband, Buddy Howe. But it was as a solo performer in the 1940s that she came into her own, flouting social convention both in her routines and by her very presence on stage. She appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show more than 20 times, and ultimately served as a protoype for comics such as Joan Rivers and Lily Tomlin. Cory Kahaney, who wrote and performs a stage show honoring Jewish woman comedians, had this to say (on our Vox Tablet podcast) about first discovering Carroll:

And here is Carroll delightfully lampooning the snobbery of girls working in a dress shop (courtesy of Cory Kahaney):

Jean Carroll, 98, Is Dead; Blended Wit and Beauty [NYT]

Related: Funny Girls [Tablet Magazine]

Iraq Wants Compensation For Osirak Attack

Plans to sue Israel over raid on nuclear site


Iraq will reportedly demand that Israel pay reparations for bombing its nuclear reactor at Osirak in 1981. A member of the Iraqi parliament told a local paper that his country will lodge its claim with the United Nations and cite a contemporaneous resolution that strongly condemned Israel’s air strike. (The raid is retrospectively credited with significantly setting back Saddam Hussein’s nuclear-weapons program.) The United States, of course, considers both countries important allies.

We will leave the final word here to Bob Dylan and his 1983 song “Neighborhood Bully,” which, as Tablet Magazine contributing editor Jeffrey Goldberg has noted, was penned in response to the international outcry that followed the Osirak raid:

Well, he knocked out a lynch mob, he was criticized,
Old women condemned him, said he should apologize.
Then he destroyed a bomb factory, nobody was glad.
The bombs were meant for him. He was supposed to feel bad.
He’s the neighborhood bully.

‘Israel Must Compensate Iraq For Osirak’ [JPost]

Related: Subterranean Homesick Blues [Jewcy]

Today on Tablet

Davening Lotus position, anti-anti-enlightenment, and more


Today in Tablet Magazine, Taffy Brodesser-Akner attempts to reconcile modern Orthodox Judaism and yoga, finds that each can complement the other. Book critic Adam Kirsch reviews a new book on “anti-Enlightenment” by Israeli thinker Zeev Sternhall—a Holocaust survivor, and therefore one who knows whereof he speaks. The Scroll, meanwhile, aims always to enlighten, or at least to brighten your day.

Patriots Receiver Edelman to Start in Playoffs

Football-playing Jew is, turns out, not Jewish

Edelman stiff-arms a Denver Broncos defender in October.(Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Wide receiver Wes Welker, the 2009 NFL leader in catches, was injured Sunday in his New England Patriots’ final regular season game, and will be replaced next Sunday by rookie Julian Edelman. Kupel’s, the legendary Boston-area Jewish bakery, has already named a bagel sandwich after Edelman. Even Bill Simmons, the massively popular sportswriter, has alluded to Edelman’s presumably Semitic origins: “‘Julian Edelman’ might be the least likely name of a football player this decade. He sounds like he should be an acoustic singer, or an indie director, or a dentist, or the son of a famous rock star, or a Beverly Hills doctor who does breast implants … .”

Except Edelman is none of these things: instead, he is a Gentile wide receiver for the New England Patriots. Kaplan’s Korner—a blog devoted to Jews in sports and, relatedly, maybe the best blog ever—called the Pats’ media office, which said that Edelman “has Jewish ancestry but was raised as a Christian.”

Now, Patriots owner Robert Kraft is Jewish, and generously so; the Hillel at his (and my) alma mater, Columbia, is named after him. But Jewish NFL owners are about as rare as Jewish dentists. A Jewish slot receiver—that would have been something.

Edelman MOT? [Kaplan’s Korner]
Belichick Focuses on Ravens, Moves On to Edelman [CSN]

Daybreak: Sunny With A Chance of Peace

Plus Rabbi Shmuley stuck at Newark International, and more in the news


• Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sounded a note of unusual optimism regarding potential future talks with the Palestinians. [Haaretz]
• It turns out that the suicide bomber who slayed seven CIA agents in Afghanistan last week had actually been recruited by Jordanian intelligence to infiltrate al Qaeda in the Afghan hinterlands. [NYT]
• Iran announced plans to stage a massive military exercise next month while the world responds to its latest nuclear counteroffer. [WSJ]
• Rabbi Shmuley Boteach pens a dispatch from Newark International Airport, where a man recently went through a “secure” exit and shut the airport down for a time. Boteach says he had to wait for hours while his wife and children’s plane sat on the runway. [JPost]
• An Arab Knesset representative accused the Israeli military of training dogs to attack anyone who says, “Allahu Akbar.” The IDF denied the charge. [Haaretz]

Sundown: The Israeli Pledge of Allegiance

Plus Colorado shuls are cyber-attacked, and more


• A controversial bill to require Knesset members to swear loyalty to “the State of Israel as a Jewish, Zionist, democratic state” came up for debate today. The legislation is supported by Avigdor Lieberman’s right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu party. [JPost]
• Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak reportedly insisted to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that East Jerusalem be on the table during final-status talks. [Arutz Sheva]
• Saudi Arabia’s top diplomat accused Israel of acting like a “spoiled child” on the topic of West Bank settlements. [Haaretz]
• The Websites of two Boulder, Colorado, synagogues were hacked and defaced with anti-Semitic messages. The unidentified culprit goes by the handle Waja (Adi Noor). [Denver Post]
• Tablet Magazine contributing editor Jeffrey Goldberg wonders what former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who lapsed into a coma exactly four years ago, would think now of his decision several years ago to unilaterally withdraw from Gaza. [The Atlantic]

State Dept. Supports Embattled Anti-Semitism Envoy

Rosenthal had stirred pot with comment on Oren and J Street


The U.S. State Department is standing behind its anti-Semitism envoy, Hannah Rosenthal. She told Haaretz last month that Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren’s choice not to speak to J Street, the “pro-Israel, pro-peace” organization she used to advise, was “most unfortunate.” The comment prompted a minor tempest: prominent figures in the American-Jewish community questioned her fitness; Israel sounded a concerned note; and State felt compelled to confirm its total support of Oren.

Today, the department did the same with Rosenthal. “Special Envoy Rosenthal has the complete support of the department,” it asserted. “As a matter of longstanding policy the United States has supported a peaceful solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. To that end the U.S. government encourages broad dialogue among responsible partners for peace.” Looks like Uncle Sam is getting its wish.

State Department Backs Its Anti-Semitism Envoy [JTA]

Earlier: Administration Rebukes Its Anti-Semitism Envoy
U.S. Anti-Semitism Envoy Attacks Ambassador Oren

Presenting iTalmud

Is there an app for that? Let’s discuss for 17 weeks


Does your busy schedule prevent you from studying the Jewish law for the requisite five hours per day? Do you find yourself wondering—and, inexplicably, failing to remember—what Mani II’s position on dealing with drought is? Have you ever been bored on the subway? Then may we suggest iTalmud, the mishnaic iPhone application. The whole Talmud, with multiple search functions, in the palm of your hand—for only $19.99.

All kidding aside, from the looks of it, the app does a superb job recreating those funky, text-filled pages. In fact, we can’t wait to see what it looks like on Apple’s forthcoming device-which-may-or-may-not-be-called-the-iTablet.


Settlers Smash Ice to Protest Settlement Freeze

Participants steal headline writers’ go-to pun

The head of a Hebron settlement at a Jerusalem protest today.(Menahem Kehana/AFP/Getty Images)

Today, in front of the prime minister’s residence in Jerusalem, West Bank settlers smashed a symbolic house made of ice—symbolic, because what they really want smashed is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s declared freeze on West Bank settlement construction. Get it? The ice represents the freeze? Thaw thaw thaw, very funny.

Settlers Smash Ice Structure in Anti-Freeze Protest [Ynet]

Poet Rachel Wetzsteon Dies at 42

‘New Republic’ poetry editor, bard of Morningside Heights


Sad news from the Upper West Side: talented young poet Rachel Wetzsteon was found dead, apparently a suicide. Tablet Magazine book reviewer Adam Kirsch, an expert on 20th-century poetry who moreover worked with Wetzsteon at The New Republic (where she was poetry editor), had this to say about her: “at 42, she was one of the best poets of her generation, distinguished by her natural gift for form, her tough urban romanticism, and her appealing combination of melancholy and wit.”

In particular, those (like myself) who have spent lots of time in Morningside Heights may smile, and feel not a little awe, at how much insight and beauty Wetzsteon was able to wring out of her sleepy, university-town upper Manhattan neighborhood. In “Short Ode to Morningside Heights,” Wetzsteon juxtaposes the grad-school chatter at the Hungarian Pastry Shop with the towering Cathedral of St. John the Divine across Amsterdam Avenue:

The pastry shop’s abuzz
with crazy George and filthy graffiti,
but the peacocks are strutting across the way
and the sumptuous cathedral gives
the open-air banter a reason to deepen:
build structures inside the mind, it tells
the languorous talkers, to rival the ones outside!

Rachel Wetzsteon, Poet of Keen Insight and Wit, Dies at 42 [NYT]
In Memory, and Admiration, of Rachel Wetzsteon [TNR]

Livni Rejects Green Line as Final Boundary

Even the centrist opposition would keep some West Bank settlements

Livni in Paris last month.(Gerard Cerles/AFP/Getty Images)

The Wall Street Journal sat down with Tzipi Livni, the leader of Israel’s opposition Kadima Party, late last month (that is, before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked her to join his unity cabinet … and before she turned him down). Notably, even Livni—a centrist, appreciably to the left of Netanyahu’s Likud Party—rejects any settlement that would establish the pre-1967 Green Line as the final boundary between Israeli and Palestinian states, due to the Israeli settlements that lie just on the other side in the West Bank and East Jerusalem:

Regardless of what you think of settlement activity in the past—whether you think it’s Jews building in their ancient homeland or it is against international law. It’s not important. Because we have what we call ‘blocs of settlements,’ and most of them are very close to the Green Line. It takes only a few percentages [of the territory]. Whether we like it or not, we have to give an answer to these realities in any peace agreement.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has insisted that the Green Line be considered “sacrosanct.” On the other hand, Livni wryly uses her harder line on the final-boundary issue in order to take a softer line on another of Abbas’s demands: a full settlement freeze. As she puts it, “It’s not about building now, but to keep the blocs of settlements as part of Israel in the future.”

Interview With Tzipi Livni [WSJ]

Earlier: The Road Map to Real Negotiations

Today on Tablet

‘Emancipation’, tattle-tales, and more


Today in Tablet Magazine, the weekly Vox Tablet podcast features an interview with former BBC journalist Michael Goldfarb on his new book, Emancipation. Marjorie Ingall devotes her weekly column on parenting to tattling: drawing the line between good and bad telling, and educating children on the distinction. Josh Lambert offers up his weekly look at forthcoming books of Jewish interest, including a few novels. And guess what’s back? The Scroll, all day long. Happy New Year.

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