Why Israel’s Airport Security Will Remain Only Israel’s

One thing that won’t be coming to America


Even as the United States consults Israel over airport security in the wake of the attempted Christmas Day bombing, it is becoming increasingly clear that, as several folks have already noted, Israel’s extremely strict and extremely successful screening process is simply not transferable to the States.

And it’s not just the almost incomprehensibly massive difference in scale (Israel has only one international airport, and it’s approximately the same size as that of San Juan, Puerto Rico; Chicago’s O’Hare, alone, handles eight times as many passengers). As much, it’s a cultural disparity: Israelis are vastly more willing to put up with inconvenience and racial profiling. The Forward’s Nathan Guttman writes:

Most Israeli-run security consulting companies have since downsized or left the field of airport security due to the difficulty in overcoming cultural gaps that prevented implementing Israeli methods in American airports. “People simply won’t agree to spend all that time and money,” he said. “You can’t change the way people think.” Bezherano added another factor: “Americans find it hard to swallow a security policy that employs different standards to different groups.”

In other words, while there are certainly ways in which America can go to school on Israel’s airport-security putt, it will never have remotely as comprehensive national airport security—and, consequently, is unlikely to have quite the same stellar success at Israel when it comes to preventing problems.

Israel’s Airport Security, Object of Envy, Is Hard To Emulate Here [Forward]

Earlier: U.S. Asks Israel For Security Advice
How To Prevent Plane Bombings? Ask Israel

Make Dip, Not War

Israel battles Lebanon for hummus supremacy

One of the chefs mashes some chickpeas, January 4th.(Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images)

This is the type of Israeli-Lebanese conflict that we can get behind: only a few months after a bunch of Lebanese chefs set the Guinness World Record for making the most hummus, 50 chefs in the Arab Israeli village of Abu Gosh one-upped them, making a single vat of hummus *weighing almost 4.5 tons!* The fight over hummus between these two countries goes deeper than world records: Lebanon recently tried, and failed, to get the European Union to certify the dip, thought to be one of the oldest prepared foods in the world, as a Lebanese specialty.

“I’ve heard Lebanon is already planning to strike back,” the Guinness adjudicator said. As long as their ammunition is chickpeas and olive oil, then we wish them the best of luck.

Abu Gosh Stirs Up Hummus War with Record Bid [Ynet]

Today on Tablet

Dancers with Russian names, Denise Steen, and more


Today in Tablet Magazine, Staff Writer Marissa Brostoff explores the world of competitive ballroom-dancing—which has recently come to be dominated by Russian-Jewish émigrés. Ellen Umansky profiles Denise Steen, a novelist of the Jewish community who enjoys the marketing benefits of the family-owned billboard business. Liel Leibovitz finds in this week’s haftorah resonances with the current situation in Judea and Samaria, whose implications do not reflect well on those areas’ Jewish inhabitants. And The Scroll promises to ease you into the weekend.

A Jew Among The Heavyweights

Roman Greenberg prepares for next month’s fight

Greenberg after a 2003 victory.(John Gichigi/Getty Images)

Roman Greenberg, the Moldovan-born, Israeli-based heavyweight prizefighter, will enter the ring next month in Ukraine for the first time since his only defeat, in August 2008. He is training with his old coach outside Haifa, and plans to spar with the Klitschko brothers, the world’s two top heavyweights (who, unfortunately for violence addicts, refuse to fight each other). Can’t get enough about Jewish boxers? Douglas Century published a biography of triple-division champion Barney Ross for Nextbook Press. And check The Scroll for updates as the details of Greenberg’s bout solidify.

Greenberg Looks to the Klitschkos for Inspiration [The Jewish Chronicle]
Related: Barney Ross [Nextbook Press]

Daybreak: U.S. Wants Talks; Will Even Do The Talking

Plus prime Yiddish Department threatened, and more in the news


• We hypothesized as much yesterday, and now new reporting reveals that the United States is indeed making an extra hard push for formal Middle East peace negotiations by Feburary or March. [WSJ]
• One option is “proximity talks,” in which Special Envoy George Mitchell would shuttle between the two parties presenting each one’s side. The prime area of deadlock continues to be extending the construction freeze to East Jerusalem. [Haaretz]
• A nuclear Iran could be “very, very destabilizing,” warned the top U.S. general. He emphasized diplomacy. [Ynet]
• Israel successfully tested “Iron Dome,” a defense system designed to shoot down weapons launched from Gaza. [JTA]
• The University of Maryland’s Yiddish Department, which remains the best in the region, faces elimination at the end of this school year. [WP]
• Israel will compensate the United Nations to the tune of over $10 million for destruction of property and a U.N. driver’s life during last year’s “Cast Lead” operation in Gaza. [WSJ]

Sundown: How To Get Yourself Kicked Off a Plane

Plus C-Span’s and Cyprus’s Jewish problems, and more


• While his plane sat on a Miami runway, an Arab-American man shouted, “I want to kill all the Jews!” When the plane took off, he was no longer aboard. [Arutz Sheva]
• Netanyahu’s office formally complained to the White House over the Palestinian government’s alleged glorification of terrorism. [Haaretz]
• C-Span call-in shows tend to attract questioners who spout anti-Semitic tropes on the air. C-Span’s hosts, moreover, tend not to correct the record. [Jeffrey Goldberg]
• Israeli troops reportedly came across Hezbollah bombs buried in southern Lebanon. Hezbollah must be unarmed in that area under a U.N. resolution. [JTA]
•Arsonists damaged the only synagogue on the island of Cyprus. [JTA]
• Orthodox European rabbis condemned calls for full-body scans at airports following the attempted Christmas Day bombing of an Amsterdam-to-Detroit flight. The measure would violate the modesty code of observant Jewish women, they said. [Haaretz]

Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Yemeni Jews

But didn’t know to ask


Yemen: a nation turns its worried eyes to you. And where there is some random country we previously did not care about, there are also, as we know, a fledgling group of final remaining Jews. The Forward does yeoman’s work summing up their story:

the Jews in Yemen brush off the hatred of those sermons with nonchalance and an air of aloof exemption, as though the hatred applies only to foreign Jews, not to Yemenis. Most Muslim Yemenis have never met a Jew, and so they are excited and amazed to learn that indigenous Jews still live in Yemen, speaking the same dialect as Muslims.

Having been kicked out of their villages by Shiite radicals, most Yemeni Jews reside in Sana’a, the capital, under the surprisingly benevolent protection of the government—and have no plans to leave. “If we leave the country,” one Yemeni Jew told Yediot Ahronoth, “we will not be allowed to take our possessions—everything will be confiscated. I don’t know how we will survive. I have relatives in Israel and in the U.S., and they always ask me to join them, but for now we are getting by. We have a steady income and a house.” The final remaining Jews of Yemen will remain the final remaining Jews of Yemen.

Caught in Strife, Yemen’s Jews Cling Fiercely to Their Ancient Heritage [Forward]
Yemen’s Jews Fear for their Lives, Yet Refuse To Make Aliyah [Ynet]

Related: Jewspotting [Slate]

Moldovan Menorah-Destroyers Avoid Prosecution

Blatantly anti-Semitic incident did not incite religious hatred


The prosecutor in Moldova’s capital city of Chisinau has decided not to file any charges related to an allegedly anti-Semitic incident there last month. Then, a group of Orthodox Christians stormed a Hanukkah menorah set up near the town center, tore it down, and replaced it with a cross, while the priest leading the group declared: “We are an Orthodox country. Stephan the Great defended our country from all kinds of Zjids, and now they come and put their menorah here. This is anarchy.” Incitement to racial or religious hatred is outlawed in the tiny Eastern European country.

The non-prosecution should surprise no one, since the whole mess was the Jews’ fault in the first place.

No Charges Filed Against Moldovan Anti-Semites [JTA]
Earlier: Moldovan Church Blames Jews for Anti-Semitic Attack

Portman Doesn’t Like Playing Jewish Characters

But she’d be so good at it!

Portman in New York last November.(Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for IFP)

Natalie Portman is Jewish: in fact, she was born Natalie Hershlag in Jerusalem. She also just played a Jewish woman in one section of the film New York, I Love You. Yet, apparently, she is not keen on future Jewish roles. “I’ve always tried to stay away from playing Jews,” she reportedly told British Elle. “I get like 20 Holocaust scripts a month, but I hate the genre.”

We have two things to say to Portman. First, to quote actor Andy Garcia: “Typecast? I certainly hope so. I spent seven years without working.”

Second, however many Holocaust scripts you get each month, we get at least as many Holocaust books. We feel you.

The Three Kinds of Movies Natalie Portman Won’t Do [iVillage Entertainment]

Earlier: New York, You Deserve Better

Mumbai Chabad Threatened

Note cites Hitler, pledges attack


“Israel is dogs. We will strike again—heil, Hitler.” So reads the handwritten note that the Chabad house in Mumbai was sent. A picture of Hitler was reportedly attached.

In November 2008, Islamic terrorists staged a massacre in the Indian city, killing 170. The Chabad was one of several sites specifically targeted, and six occupants were killed.

Mumbai Chabad Receives Threat [JTA]

Dispute Over Kafka’s Israeli Papers Is Transparent and Simple

Just kidding, it’s totally Kafkaesque


A writer would be tempted to describe any conflict over Franz Kafka’s estate as “Kafkaesque,” even if it were relatively ordinary and clear. However, in the Czech Jewish writer’s case, the eponymous adjective really does seem apt. According to The Washington Post, unpublished papers belonging to the estate of Max Brod, Kafka’s literary executor, are spread over half a dozen boxes in Israel and Switzerland (and that’s not counting suspected secret Swiss boxes). These may contain little of interest; they also may contain unpublished letters or stories in Kafka’s hand. The Israeli State Archivist claims that it was understood that Brod’s heirs, the Hoffes, would give the papers to a public archive. The Hoffes claim the papers are their property (and they are considering selling them to the Museum of Modern Literature in Marbach, Germany—which already owns the original manuscript of Kafka’s The Trial).

“To the Hoffes,” we are told, “the episode smacks of the heavy-handed statism about which Kafka wrote. Their mother’s entire will—estimated in the millions of dollars—is being held in limbo by the courts while the fight over the documents is litigated.” If you’re looking for an extra layer of irony, you may find it here: Max Brod might be considered one of the worst literary executors in history. After all, Brod published Kafka’s extant novels and stories, and kept all his papers. Kafka wanted everything burned.

In Israel, A Tangled Battle Over the Papers of Franz Kafka [WP]

Today on Tablet

Shalom Auslander talks genocide in his first column


Today in Tablet Magazine, Shalom Auslander, author of The Foreskin’s Lament, inaugurates his “Diary of a Novelist” column by explaining how to find the funny in mass ethnic murder: “‘There’s nothing funny about genocide,’ you say. That’s what I thought.” For its part, The Scroll will try to find additional, perhaps more traditional things to laugh about.

U.S.-Arab Talks Held, To Pave Road to Peace

Multibillion-dollar arms deal thrown into mix


There is a flurry of diplomatic activity between the United States and several Muslim countries as America tries to lay the groundwork for Israel-Palestinian peace talks. On Friday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will meet with her Egyptian and Jordanian counterparts in Washington, D.C., to talk peace. Half a world away, eight U.S. congresspersons, led by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Florida), are touring the Middle East. Yesterday, the delegation met with Egypt’s foreign minister; in the coming days, they hit Jerusalem for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Opposition Leader Tzipi Livni, the Palestinian Territories for Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, and Istanbul for President Abdullah Gul.

Unrelatedly—maybe—the Pentagon gave its blessing to a $3.2 billion deal between Egypt and Lockheed Martin for 24 F-16 jet fighters. The Defense Department also okayed smaller deals for Saudia Arabia, Jordan, Morocco, and the United Arab Emirates to buy American-made weapons.

U.S. Lawmakers Talking Peace on Mideast Mission [JTA]
U.S., Arab States Collaborating To See Mideast Talks Resume[Haaretz]
Egypt, Arab Countries Sign Massive Arms Deals With U.S.[Arutz Sheva]

Daybreak: Was Barak’s ‘Vacation’ a Secret Meeting?

Plus Polanski’s request, another Ponzi scheme, and more in the news


• Rumors abound that Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak spent last Sunday and Monday in Jordan secretly meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. His aides say he was on “vacation” (presumably not hiking the Appalachian Trail). [JPost]
• Film director Roman Polanski asked a judge to sentence him in absentia for having sex with a minor. A hearing on this request is scheduled for later this month. [LAT]
• A Hamas-organized protest in southern Gaza led to a rare armed skirmish with Egyptian border guards. An Egyptian soldier died, and several on both sides suffered injuries. [NYT]
• Richard Elkinson, 76, was arrested for allegedly conducting a $29 million Ponzi scheme that specifically targeted elderly Massachusetts Jews. [JTA]
• Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.), currently touring the Middle East, will attempt to cut U.S. aid to the Palestinians until they return to peace talks with Israel. [The New York Jewish Week]

Sundown: Rahm Is Pleased as Punch With Israel

Plus the Holocaust Museum on Von Brunn, and more


• The White House flatly denied that chief-of-staff Rahm Emanuel threatened to disengage from the peace process because he was “fed up” with Israel. Haaretz reported he did this morning. [Jeffrey Goldberg]
• Israel’s deputy foreign minister predicted that a nuclear Iran would prompt a massive regional arms race. [Haaretz]
• Scott Rothstein, the Florida man who allegedly orchestrated a $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme, is working on a plea that would spare him a life sentence. [AP/Vos Iz Neias?]
• Fun with Orange County, California, white-supremacist anti-Semitic political parties. [OC Weekly via The Awl]
• Finally, we just received the Holocaust Memorial Museum’s official statement on the death of James Von Brunn: “The Museum’s thoughts and prayers continue to be with Officer Stephen Tyrone Johns’ family at this time. Officer Johns died heroically defending the Museum, visitors and staff. This tragedy is a powerful reminder that our cause of fighting hatred remains more urgent than ever.”

Thank You!

Thank you for subscribing to the Tablet Magazine Daily Digest.
Please tell us about you.