Jacko Called Hitler ‘Genius Orator’

At least according to Shmuley Boteach book

Jackson in London in March.(Dave Hogan/Getty Images)

Opportunist (and rabbi) Shmuley Boteach today starts hawking The Michael Jackson Tapes, a new book based on 30 hours of conversations he had with the late pop star. Among its big revelations is Jackson’s admiration for Hitler, whom he called a “genius orator,” according to Britain’s Daily Mail. “To make that many people turn and change and hate, he had to be a showman and he was,” Jackson told Boteach, noting that Hitler’s bad ’tude could’ve been mitigated with just a little therapy, since “somewhere, something in their life went wrong.” In the romance department, Jackson reportedly told Boteach that Cindy Crawford flirted with him, he considered dating Liz Taylor, and while Madonna loved him, the feeling was hardly mutual—“she is not sexy at all,” he asserted.

Michael Jackson: Adolf Hitler was a ‘genius’ at showmanship [Daily Mail]

Canadian Group Turns Israel Boycott Around

Campaigns for a ‘Buycott’


Having trouble keeping track of all the boycotts on Israeli products? A Canadian group plans to set up a database “that will allow our subscribers to notify others when they find out about an attempt to boycott a particular [Israeli] item.” The catch is that the group is pro-Israel, and wants people to go out and buy those very things—such as Ahava cosmetics, wine, and, in the case of the U.K. labor union, anything made in Israel—in what they’re calling a “Buycott.” We know at least one or two Jews that won’t have too much trouble participating, including some of our own family members who consider a “Made in Israel” sticker enough of a reason to purchase pretty much anything from cake mix to underwear.

‘Buycott’ Challenges Israel Boycotters

Today’s Sorry

Apologies to the barrista, and to fellow commuters


It’s the last workday before Yom Kippur, and therefore the last installment in our countdown-to-the-holiday Daily Sorry series. Today, our final two sorries, one from a cheap café-goer and the other from an inconsiderate straphanger. Listen to them here and here.

And, with that, our work is done. We hope you feel like you got some stuff off your chest, like we helped you atone. And, if not: sorry.

Netanyahu’s Brief Homecoming

Visits 92nd Street Y, reminisces, leaves to catch plane

Netanyahu at the United Nations yesterday.(Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had a brief homecoming—of sorts—last night at the 92nd Street Y, on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, where he apparently learned to swim as a kid. “This was where I had my first immersion into American Jewish affairs,” Netanyahu joked to the thousand or so people who turned up, at relatively short notice, and waited two hours at security to see him give a 20-minute speech about, of all things, an encounter he had with the Lubavitcher rebbe in 1984, while serving as Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations.

Netanyahu, fresh from addressing the U.N. General Assembly yesterday morning, had a plane to catch, so he raced through the tale of how he was summoned to spend the Simchat Torah holiday in Crown Heights by a former soldier who had become Lubavitcher. Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson wanted to tell him to “light a candle of truth” in the U.N.’s “house of lies,” Netanyahu recounted, referring specifically to Holocaust denial and reports criticizing Israel as the aggressor in the conflict with the Palestinians. “We’re not conquerors and we’re not colonialists!” Netanyahu declared, after explaining that he keeps a 2,000-year-old signet ring in his office inscribed with the name of some other Netanyahu who lived in ancient times. “That is my name!”

Then the prime minister asked the crowd—which included a smattering of black-hatted men—to do the same, this Yom Kippur, and “light one more—the same candle of truth.” There was applause. A little girl presented the politician with a bouquet of flowers, the crowd sang The Star-Spangled Banner and Hatikvah, and then Netanyahu waved and went home.

Bibi: U.N. as ‘House of Lies’ [Politico]
Netanyahu Recalls Rebbe’s Advice: Dispel Lies, Darkness, With Truth []
Previously: Netanyahu at U.N.: If They Recognize Us, We’ll Recognize Them

Today on Tablet

A Hasidic tradition, kosher footwear, and Moses’s last day


Marc Caplan describes Rosh Hashanah with a Hasidic sect in Ukraine. Allison Hoffman has some advice on leather-free shoes for Yom Kippur. Liel Leibovitz brings Pancho Villa into this weeks Torah portion, about the end of Moses’s life. Plus, more to come here on The Scroll.

Daybreak: Hosni Blames Jews for UNESCO Loss

Obama to confont Ahmadinejad, Olmert trial begins, and more in the news


• Farouk Hosni, the Egyptian culture minister who lost a bid to become head of UNESCO, most likely in part because he once threatened to burn Israeli books, blames the “Jewish organizations and lobby who lit a fire of lies” about him. [Reuters]
• President Barack Obama, along with British and French leaders, will confront Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad about a secret nuclear facility believed to be in the works near Tehran. [NYT]
• White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel told Charlie Rose that Obama’s meeting with Israeli and Palestinian leaders was more than a photo op: “they now have to go home and face the people that they represent.” [Haaretz]
• Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s trial on corruption charges began today; testimony has been postponed until next February. [Ynet]
• The Illinois Supreme Court upheld the wills of a couple who opted to disinherit their grandchildren if they didn’t marry Jews; four out of five lost out on the money. [AP]

Sundown: Make It Rain

Another scam, Ahmadinejad in line, and a settler speaks


• According to a market-research poll, the number one Rosh Hashanah wish among Israeli Jews is a practical one: increased rainfall. (In a rule that would be instructive to beauty pageant organizers, respondents weren’t allowed to choose peace.) [Ynet]
• Jewish charities in Latin America were the hardest hit victims of the Madoff-esque Ponzi scheme allegedly perpetrated by R. Allen Stanford; he may have targeted them specifically. [CBS]
• A Palestine Monitor interview with a Jewish settler in Hebron who believes “the ends justify the means” is relatively even-handed (albeit interspersed on the page with videos of settlers abusing Palestinians). [PM]
• A Swedish official says Iranian President Ahmadinejad’s speech yesterday did not cross the “red line” that would have prompted a full walkout by the European Union, although she understands “there were other reasons for other countries that decided to leave.” [EJP]
Publishers Weekly has an interview with Maggie Anton, who recently published the third installment in her trilogy of romances based on the real lives of Rashi’s daughters. This one’s “like Gone with the Wind, but with the Crusades instead of the Civil War,” Anton says an editor told her. [PW]

CNN Meets the Ex-Crypto-Jews of Crown Heights

But doesn’t call them ‘Sephardic’

Email has a story on Moshe and Chanaleah Nunez, Latin American-born Jews who are now part of the ultra-Orthodox Chabad community in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Moshe (born in Guadalajara, Mexico) and Chanaleah (born in Panama) both grew up in Christian homes—those aren’t their given names—and later determined that their respective ancestors were crypto-Jews who had converted to Christianity after the Spanish Inquisition but kept some Jewish traditions alive. Later, they met, married, and underwent an Orthodox conversion in the United States. Now, they and their two children live in Crown Heights where, Moshe told CNN, they aren’t the only Spanish-speaking Hasidim around: “There are a lot of Latin American Jews here. Some of them have moved from countries like Venezuela, Colombia, and Argentina, where there’s political unrest.” Interestingly, he—and the story’s reporter—consistently use the term “Latin American Jews” or speak of “Hasidic families in the neighborhood [who] are also Latinos.” There are plenty of Latino Jews out there, and typically they’re described with the term “Sephardic.” The word might be absent from the story simply because CNN didn’t want to use a term a general audience might not know, but it does raise an interesting point: if you grew up Christian and converted to a sect with roots in Eastern Europe, but your putative ancestors were Jewish, it really confounds that already-confusing term.

Brooklyn Family Keeps Latino-Jewish Traditions Alive []

Netanyahu at U.N.: If They Recognize Us, We’ll Recognize Them

But meetings have resulted in little apparent progress

Netanyahu displaying Nazi plans for Auschwitz at the United Nations today.(Michael Nagle/Getty Images)

A year ago, when Israeli President Shimon Peres got up to address the United Nations General Assembly, he chose to begin by donning a yarmulke—a showman’s touch that indicated, symbolically, that he was speaking not just as a head of state, but as a Jew. This year, Israel’s new Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu—who was not wearing a kippah—kicked off a little more aggressively, with a show-and-tell of Nazi documents recording the systematic genocide of Europe’s Jews. “These are the plans of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp I now hold in my hand, with the signature of Heinrich Himmler, Hitler’s deputy,” Netanyahu said, waving a thick folder. “Are they a lie?”

Netanyahu’s case, familiar by now, was that the U.N.’s failure to challenge Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s repeated Holocaust denials, the Iranian regime as a whole, or its backing for Hamas terrorists in Gaza, threatened to undermine its ability to prevent terrorism—and, more to the point, undermines his willingness to believe that any sacrifices Israel makes on the road to peace will be met with a guaranteed payoff. Israel withdrew from Gaza, he argued, and “we didn’t get peace—we got an Iranian-backed terror base 50 miles from Tel Aviv.” So, he went on, “only if we have the confidence to know you will stand with us, will we take further risks for peace.” Get the Palestinians to recognize the Jews’ right to a homeland in ancient Judea, he said, and he would be happy to recognize that “the Palestinians also live there, and they want a home”—a demilitarized one, he insisted, but nonetheless one where they could live in “prosperity and dignity.” The delegations present—which did not include the Iranians—broke into applause.

Which is nice, but there’s still, as far as anyone knows, no deal on restarting negotiations. (So much for Peres’s hope, expressed last year, that a final deal could be reached by the end of 2009—a year after George Bush’s December 2008 deadline.) Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said in interviews earlier today that he had no intention of re-starting talks without resolving “fundamental disagreements”—in other words, the dispute over the settlement freeze—while Netanyahu told Haaretz that he wouldn’t sit down until he had an explicit recognition of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. Meanwhile, Politico cited two “senior U.S. officials” who insisted that talks about renewing talks are moving along just swimmingly. “Now we’re in deep discussions with both sides on the basis to launch negotiations,” one of the officials said. “It seems to me that clearly we’re in a better position than we were.” Clearly.

Netanyahu Scolds UNGA for Turning Blind Eye to Terror [JPost]
U.S. Officials: Middle East Talks on Track [Politico]
Abbas: No Return to Peace Talks At This Time [AP]

Today’s Sorry

That whole economic collapse? My bad.


Yom Kippur is nearly here—just a few called-in atonements left. Today’s sorry is from someone with a sneaking suspicion that he may be a least a little bit responsible for the economic collapse. Listen to his apology here.

Tomorrow will be your last chance to atone on Tablet Magazine’s Sorry Hotline. Call the hotline at 718-360-4836, tell us what you’re sorry for, and we’ll publish all the remaining repentances tomorrow.

Security Council Boosts Non-Proliferation

Good news for Israel


The U.N. Security Council, with President Obama acting as chairman, unanimously passed a resolution yesterday intended to bolster nuclear deterrents, such as the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and lower the chances that civilian nuclear programs can be used for military purposes. The chief targets of the resolution are North Korea and Iran, although some Western leaders think the measure doesn’t go far enough. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy both urged the imposition of sanctions on Iran—a difficulty given that one of the long-standing opponents of sanctions is China, a permanent member on the Security Council.

Though it may only be a symbolic gesture coming from a forum not known for its sympathies with Zionism, the resolution does benefit Israel in implicitly censuring one of its most hostile neighbors, whose rulers have pledged to wipe Israel off the map. Another minor triumph for the Netanyahu government was Obama’s climb-down in rhetoric against settlement building—he spoke yesterday of the need to “restrain” it as opposed to “freeze” it, a word choice that has conservative pundits skeptical of Obama’s initial policy claiming, “I told you so.”

U.N. Security Council Adopts Measure on Nuclear Arms [NYT]

Sorry Songs

Musical selections to put you in the mood for atonement


The Day of Atonement is a few days away, and tradition requires us to ask each other’s forgiveness for sins, slights, and other snafus we may have committed during the past year. If you’re in need for a bit of inspiration with all this sorry business, here are some musical examples of Jews apologizing in a variety of ways, from the morbid to the heartfelt:

“Sorry-Grateful,” by Stephen Sondheim: When it comes to relationships, Sondheim tells us, we’re always sorry-grateful and regretful-happy. “Why look for answers when none occur?” he asks. “You always are what you always were, which has nothing to do with, all to do with her.”

“Sorry Angel,” by Serge Gainsbourg: “It’s me who suicided you,” apologizes the French poet of the obscene. “Now you’re with the angels.” That’s Gainsbourg’s idea of a love song. (more…)

Today on Tablet

Eating, not eating, and the most captivating part of Yom Kippur


Marc Tracy gathers some wisdom about what to eat in preparation for the big fast on Monday. Eddie Portnoy, on the other hand, looks back at anarchic Yom Kippur feasts that marked secular Jewish over a century ago. Alexander Gelfand muses on that most somber and affecting of melodies, the Kol Nidre liturgy. And we’ll keep rolling out the good stuff here on The Scroll.

Hope for High Holiday Slackers

A new website locates free services


If you’ve fallen out of the fold of synagogue membership, or if the economy’s got you down on high ticket prices for Yom Kippur, you’ve still got time to peruse your atonement options. The website No Membership Requiredoffers a list of last-minute, no-tickets-required services in cities across the country.

So now you’ve got no good excuse not to go to shul.

No Membership Required [Homepage]

Daybreak: Ahmadinejad Still Pissed at Jews

A shul to close, a school to open, and more in the news


• Speaking to a half-empty room at the U.N. General Assembly yesterday—many delegates, including those from the United States, walked out—Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke out against the “Zionist regime” responsible for “genocide,” and the “small minority” who dominate the world with “racist ambitions.” [JTA]
• Israeli P.M. Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas still think the other should make the first move toward compromising for peace. [Reuters]
• The “lack of muscle” behind Obama’s demand for a settlement freeze in Israel may have caused more harm than good in the Middle East. [AP]
• A 104-year-old synagogue in Lexington, Mississippi, will close after this Yom Kippur. [Forward]
• Meanwhile, New Jersey will have its first publicly funded Hebrew-language charter school in 2010. [Star-Ledger]

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