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Las Vegas Jewish Paper to Fold

Federation decides to spend money elsewhere

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(iStockphoto)

The Jewish Reporter, a 33-year-old Las Vegas-area newspaper, is folding after Rosh Hashanah, the Las Vegas Sun reports today. Like most Jewish newspapers in the United States, the publication—which is free and has a circulation of about 17,000—was funded by its local Jewish Federation and focused on local events. “We had to reevaluate our priorities,” the Federation’s president told the Sun. “Are the dollars that went to publishing the Reporter better used to help people? The answer to that was yes.” He added that a Federation website, jewishlasvegas.com, includes the same kinds of news and announcements that had been provided by the paper. The remaining Jewish publication in the area is the Las Vegas Israelite, which has a paid circulation of 10,000 and, according to its editor, is “the only Jewish newspaper in the country that will tell you who Paris Hilton’s new boyfriend is.”

Paper Linking Valley’s Jews to Fold, Leaving Void for Some [Las Vegas Sun]

West Bank School Closed for Swine Flu

Meantime, 3,175 cases diagnosed in Israel

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A school in the West Bank city of Nablus is being closed for a week after some students tested positive for swine flu, the AP reports. This isn’t the first time the H1N1 virus has hit the territory—as we noted in July, cases were diagnosed this summer in the West Bank though not in Gaza, where the Israeli blockade seems to have kept the disease at bay. Now, though, the number of reported cases in the West Bank has gone up to 125—with no casualties—and up to 3,175 cases in Israel, where there have been 23 deaths. By the logic of the chairman of settler organization Yesha, that means the West Bank’s been hit with a double whammy. The official told the Christian Science Monitor last week that “there are two pandemics running in the world today. One is swine flu, and the [other is the] settlement psychosis,” by which he meant the fact that the “international community is so interested in whether my daughter builds a house next to mine.” Yes, they’re about the same.

Palestinians Shut Down West Bank School After Students Contract Swine Flu [AP]
How Israel Warms Up For a Settlement Freeze [CSM]

HRW Suspends Nazi-Collecting Analyst

Pending an investigation

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Human Rights Watch has suspended Marc Garlasco, the senior military analyst who was uncovered by the pro-Israel blog Mere Rhetoric last week to be an avid collector of Nazi war memorabilia. HRW says it’ll conduct an investigation into Garlasco’s “hobby,” because, as spokeswoman Carroll Bogert told the BBC, “we have questions as to whether we’ve learned everything we need to know.”

Garlasco was outed as “Flak 88,” a frequent visitor to websites devoted to discussing combat paraphernalia of the Third Reich. In one forum, he was quoted as saying, “That is so cool! The leather SS jacket makes my blood go cold it is so COOL!”—a sign of obsessiveness about a macabre subject that led various bloggers, as well as Benjamin Netanyahu’s office, to question his motive for reporting on alleged human rights abuses committed by Israel in wartime. As NGO Monitor, a group that investigates supposed anti-Israel biases and inaccuracies in human rights reporting on the Arab-Israeli conflict, wrote at the time, “It is bizarre enough for a ‘human rights’ activist to choose the name of a gun as an internet screen name and for his car license plate. Coupled with the neo-Nazi iconography, however, the adoption of “Flak88” as Garlasco’s alter ego is evidence at the very least of highly questionable moral judgment.”

At first, HRW issued a press release vigorously defending Garlasco and his work. It claimed his extracurricular interests were purely scholarly and not at all driven by a covert or latent sympathy for fascism. Garlasco also wrote a self-defense for the Huffington Post, saying that he regretted “causing pain and offense with a handful of juvenile and tasteless postings I made on two websites that study Second World War artifacts.”

Rights Group Assailed for Analyst’s Nazi Collection [NYT]
Responding to accusations [HuffPost]
Earlier: HRW Official Collects Nazi Memorabilia
Related: Broken Watch [Tablet]

Today’s Sorry

The countdown to Yom Kippur continues: Breaking a promise

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We all have things to atone for, be they felonious or merely obnoxious. And we’re here to help. Each day until Yom Kippur, Tablet Magazine is offering a Daily Sorry. Today’s atoner is a grandfather who’s been failing to keep a promise. Here’s his apology.

Have an apology of your own waiting to get out? It’s not too late to repent. Call Tablet Magazine’s Sorry Hotline at 718-360-4836, and tell us all about it.

U.N. Says Israel Committed War Crimes

BREAKING: Investigation of Gaza war blames Hamas, too, but says Israel was worse

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Goldstone at a press conference in Geneva in July.(Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images)

“Israel committed actions amounting to war crimes, and possibly crimes against humanity,” announced Justice Richard Goldstone, head of the United Nations’ Human Rights Council investigation into last winter’s Gaza war, announced this morning in New York. Based on photographic evidence and testimony from dozens of interviews, he said at a press conference, the Israeli military violated international law in 36 instances under review, including one in which a mosque was bombed during prayers, causing unnecessary civilian deaths. Hamas, he said, was also guilty of possible war crimes, for firing rockets into civilian areas of southern Israel, but, relatively speaking, he said, the Israelis—who did not cooperate with the inquiry—had more to answer for. “We didn’t choose to give more attention to one side than the other,” Goldstone said. “Those were the facts as we found them.”

Goldstone, formerly head of the International Criminal Tribunals for both Yugoslavia and Rwanda, said he would hold off on recommendations that leaders of either Israel or Hamas be thrown in the dock at The Hague. Both sides, he said, have sufficiently independent and transparent procedures in place to conduct thorough investigations—but, he added, he’s recommending that the Security Council set a six-month deadline, and refer any outstanding issues to the International Criminal Court if either side drags their feet. (A 164-page IDF report released in July suffered because only Israelis were interviewed, Goldstone said, comparing it to an NYPD murder investigation that only included testimony from the suspect.)

Goldstone, a South African Jew who was president of World ORT, the Jewish educational charity, from 1997 to 2004, brushed off suggestions from reporters that he was being too hard on Israel. “It’s obviously a great disappointment to me, putting it mildly, that Israelis have behaved in the way described in the report,” Goldstone said. “To accuse me of being anti-Israel is ridiculous. It seems to me that it’s in the interest of Israel and in the interest of Palestinians that the truth be established.”

Israeli officials in Geneva, who were given a copy of the report only a few minutes before its public release, told the Associated Press that they planned to read it “carefully,” but had no immediate comment.


United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict
[OHCHR.org]

Today on Tablet

Finding a voice, advancing a cuisine, and what might have been

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Mayim Bialik reflects on her debut as a High Holiday cantor. Tova Mirvis explores the cookbooks that have made Jewish cuisine what it is today. Adam Kirsch reads up on a momentary Jewish cultural renaissance in Soviet Russia. And much more, here in updates to The Scroll.

Religious Jewish, Muslim Boxers to Square Off

For junior-welterweight title

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Salitas in a junior-welterweight title fight last year.(Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images)

Dmitriy “Star of David” Salita—an up-and-coming ultra-Orthodox Jewish boxer from Brooklyn—will take on the reigning champion in his junior-welterweight weight class, who’s a religious Muslim—in December, the New York Post reported yesterday. Apparently, no such match has taken place in the past, which means the symbolism is still fresh as a daisy! It also means that there will be even more excitement among Salita’s Brooklyn homeboys than is usual at his matches, where, according to the paper, “local members of the Chabad community show up en masse.” Celebrity Orthodox rabbi Shmuley Boteach told the Post that at those matches, “You would think you were in a yeshiva. All these men in Coke-bottle glasses who are the most gentle people in the world are screaming ‘Hit him!’ as loud as they can.” For those who care about Great Jews in Sports—and, keep in mind, this is a different dude than the Israeli rabbinical student going for the welterweight belt in December—there’s something to the hype: if Salita winds up fighting Amir Khan, he’ll be “the first Jewish pugilist going for the junior-welterweight title since the 1930s, when Barney Ross wore the crown.”

Brawl That Is Holy [NYP]
Earlier: Jewish Boxer Is Contender, Scholar
Related: Barney Ross: The Life of a Jewish Fighter [Nextbook Press]

Daybreak: New Roadmap Still Bumpy

Mitchell’s dreams, HRW’s scandal, and more in the news

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• A group of Israeli and Palestinian activists have created a comprehensive “recipe” for peace; at over 400 pages long, it “highlights how complex and expensive it would be” to broker a deal. [AP]
• U.S. envoy George Mitchell will attempt to “wring” an agreement to freeze settlement growth from Israeli P.M. Benjamin Netanyahu. Somehow. [AP]
• An employee of Human Rights Watch has been suspended after the discovery that he is an avid collector of Nazi memorabilia, which is, depending which side one takes in the debate over HRW, “either incontrovertible proof of bias or an irrelevant smear.” [NYT]
• A Rasmussen survey says that 59 percent of Americans would support helping Israel if it is attacked—that’s fewer than would support Canada and more than France. [Ynet]
• A hideous rumor that Jews harvest organs from Albanian children is sweeping the anti-Semitic blogosphere; Jerusalem Post commenters blame Sweden for reviving the blood libel. [JPost]

Sundown: Taking the Sting Out

Imagining Mamet, roaming charges, and the band that played on

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• We can’t help but wonder what in the world Israeli company Dvash Malkut was passing off in jars of “honey” that turned out to be fake; in any case, the only safe answer for the High Holidays seems to be going straight to the hive. [Arutz 7]
• Borrowing an idea from Tablet, awesome movie-nerd podcast Filmspotting presents the winning entry in a contest to imagine a scene of dialogue from the upcoming David Mamet adaptation of The Diary of Anne Frank; the hosts politely implore Daniel Mendelsohn not to write a corresponding article on anti-Semitism. [Filmspotting]
• The indie-rock icons in Yo La Tengo reminisce about their 25-year history as a band, started as a way “to pass an afternoon.” [NY Mag]
• According to the International Monetary Fund, Palestinians living in the West Bank are on an economic growth course this year. [Reuters]
• However, despite Tony Blair’s best efforts, they still don’t have a reliable cell phone network. (We can just picture him walking around Ramallah asking, “Can you hear me now?”) [Times of London]

Is Madonna Becoming Modest?

‘Esther’ looked like a rebbetzin at last night’s VMAs

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(Christopher Polk/Getty Images)

Maybe we’re extra-alert after Madonna’s recent visit to Israel and column in Yediot Ahronot, but we’ve noticed something unusual about the star’s wardrobe lately. In her outfit from last night’s MTV Music Video Awards, she looked like the edgiest rebbetzin at the sisterhood meeting. Combined with photos of her birthday swimming excursion, in which she swam practically fully dressed, we can’t help but wonder: is Esther, the woman formerly known as a pointy-brassiered provocateur, adopting an Orthodox standard of tznius, or modesty? (Her spokeswoman, Liz Rosenberg, didn’t respond to a request for comment.) And even more important: if so, will covered bods become the biggest fad since kabbalah bracelets?

Ames, Cross Jew Up Brooklyn Book Fest

Author and comedian put on a ‘touching’ show

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Ames and Cross yesterday.(Kate Glicksberg/Brooklyn Book Festival)

The culminating event at yesterday’s Brooklyn Book Festival was an installment of New York’s popular Happy Ending reading series, and host Amanda Stern started things off on a Jewish note when she told the crowd that she didn’t have a middle name because that’s not traditional for Jewish girls. (It was the first we’ve heard of this one, but lord knows there are obscure customs aplenty). As a child she decided to remedy the situation by dubbing herself Amanda “Michael Jackson” Stern.

Later, the reliably outré writer Jonathan Ames empathized with his childhood tormentors—hey, they couldn’t help themselves from hunting down the only Jew in the neighborhood—before bringing up comedian David Cross who proceeded to bend a depantsed Ames over his knee and administer some paddle blows. Cross then took the stage to debunk claims that he is a self-loathing Jew: “I don’t loathe myself, and I don’t loathe Jews. I just find them both equally annoying.” As for the charge that he can be condescending at times, Cross didn’t deny that his biggest targets are religious folks, to whom he says, “You are living a lie that you will never be able to rewind. I’d say that’s pretty condescending.” This judgment includes ultra-Orthodox Jews: “I find them very rude.” Cross read a selection from his new book I Drink for a Reason entitled “Ask a Rabbi”; although his rabbinical accent was commendable, the faux-advice column didn’t quite have us laughing as loud as his finale, in which he and Ames dropped trou and kissed on stage. Two not-so-nice Jewish boys—what could be sexier?

Can a Jew Represent Blacks?

Rep. Cohen’s fight to retain Memphis Congressional seat

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U.S. Rep. Steven Cohen has about a year until he’s up for reelection in his Memphis district, but the heat is already on. Challenger Willie Herenton, an African-American ex-mayor, is making the case that the area’s 60 percent black electorate needs a black congressman, as The New York Times reported yesterday. Until 2006, when Cohen won, the seat, created in a redistricting 30-odd years ago, was filled by the state’s only black representative—Harold Ford Jr, who succeeded his father. Herenton refused to speak to the Times about his opposition to Cohen, though his campaign manager was happy to talk. “This seat was set aside for people who look like me,” said Sidney Chism. “It wasn’t set aside for a Jew or a Christian. It was set aside so that blacks could have representation.” Cohen admits there’s a limit to how much he can understand the black experience, but says he nevertheless votes like a 45-year-old black woman. What he does know? “About being a minority and being discriminated against because of religion.”

Ex-Mayor of Memphis Starts Bid for Congress, Invoking Race in Campaign [NYT]

Toronto Abuzz About Israeli Film

Forget Tel Aviv; they want to see ‘Lebanon’

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Moaz after winning the Golden Lion in Venice Saturday.(Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty Images)

The biggest buzz yesterday at the Toronto International Film Festival belonged to an Israeli film—and not, as it happens, one of the movies featured in the much-protested spotlight on Tel Aviv cinema, but to Lebanon, a movie by Samuel Maoz that won the top prize at the Venice Film Festival on Saturday. The film, which follows the plight of four young Israeli soldiers trapped in an IDF tank behind enemy lines during first Lebanon war, in 1982, is an autobiographical piece that revisits the fog of war, and the lasting psychological effects of combat—“The Hurt Locker meets Waltz with Bashir,” as Hollywood Reporter writer Steven Zeitchik put it.

So, while the City to City sidebar went ahead quietly, with a screening of Danny Lerner’s film Kirot—the story of a Russian sex worker in Tel Aviv, played by, of all people, Olga Kurylenko, better known as the most recent Bond Girl—critics were apparently stampeding to make it into an afternoon screening of Lebanon, which has now rocketed to the top of the acquisitions wish-list for anyone hoping to repeat, or perhaps even improve on, Bashir’s Oscar showing. Poetic justice, irony, or both? While we wait to hear what Naomi Klein thinks, feel free to watch the Lebanon trailer (in Hebrew—though, as Matt Goldberg notes on the film blog Collider, it’s perfectly clear what’s going on even if you’ve disappointed your ancestors terribly by forgetting everything you ever learned in Hebrew school):

‘Lebanon’ and ‘Single Man’ are Suddenly Hot in Toronto [Risky Business Blog]
War and Drugs in the Cross Hairs [NYT]

Today’s Sorry

As Yom Kippur approaches: ‘Fido, I owe you one’

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We all have things to atone for. Did you tell a little lie? Say something nasty to a friend? Shout “you lie” in the middle of a presidential address? To help you get things off your chest, Tablet is offering a Daily Sorry each day until Yom Kippur. Today’s atoner has her four-legged friend on her mind. Here’s her apology.

Have an apology of your own waiting to get out? It’s not too late to repent. Call Tablet Magazine’s Sorry Hotline at 718-360-4836, and tell us all about it.

On Tablet Today

A reading list, a risky admission, tooting the horn, and those two little words

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C.A. Blomquist braces herself to tell her father about her conversion to Judaism from Christianity. On our weekly Vox Tablet podcast, Gabriel Sanders discusses—and attempts to blow—the shofar. Josh Lambert pages through the newest volumes on the Israeli Black Panthers and Hebrew poetry, plus kids’ books, fiction, and more. Marjorie Ingall muses on children and apologies. And stay tuned for updates to The Scroll.

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