You Basterds!

Jeffrey Goldberg considers Tarantino’s latest


Can Quentin Tarantino’s non-purposive kitsch violence succeed in the ultimate Jewish revenge fantasy? That’s the question Atlantic correspondent and Tablet contributing editor Jeffrey Goldberg attempts to answer in his essay on Inglourious Basterds, the hyper-caffeinated auteur’s latest film, which depicts an elite, murderous, and Jewish squadron of U.S. soldiers who, as their non-Jewish leader puts it, are corralled for “one thing and one thing only: killin’ Nazis.” Kill they do—with baseballs to the heads they elect not to scalp. Goldberg, who dreamed as a boy of paratrooping into Axis headquarters and shooting Josef Mengele in the face, is deeply unsettled by what filmmaker Eli Roth, who has a role in Inglourious Basterds, calls “kosher porn.”

“It’s almost a deep sexual satisfaction of wanting to beat Nazis to death, an orgasmic feeling,” Roth said. “My character gets to beat Nazis to death. That’s something I could watch all day. My parents are very strong about Holocaust education. My grandparents got out of Poland and Russia and Austria, but their relatives did not.”

What drives Tarantino nuts about Jewish perspectives on Jewish violence is the “hand-wringing,” the mishegas over whether or not taking a life—even if it’s a Nazi life—is morally defensible. Having not seen Ed Zwick’s Defiance, about a group of East European Jewish resistance fighters during World War II, Tarantino rightly guessed that there’d be trigger pulling, following by hair-pulling, over the righteousness of fighting back.

This is an old quandary that Goldberg doesn’t attempt to answer, but one that reminds me of something Moshe Dayan once told his students at an Israeli military academy. Having war-gamed the beginning of an IDF confrontation with Arab armies in the Middle East, Dayan asked for the students’ tactical gambits. “And I want no Jewish solutions here,” he said, meaning no agonized thinking that would paralyze quick, decisive actions. Looking at Israel today, one wonders if Jewish solutions still exist outside of Hollywood production companies.

Hollywood’s Jewish Avenger [Atlantic]

Is the ‘Juicebox Mafia’ Today’s ‘House Jews’

Are anti-Israeli Jews self-hating? And what should they be called?


Adam Serwer, an American Prospect writing fellow, parses Jewish identity politics on The Root today. You see, Marty Peretz and his staunchly pro-Israel acolytes have taken to belittling bloggers more critical of Israeli policies toward the Palestinians, like Matt Yglesias, as the “Juicebox Mafia.” It’s a Jew-on-Jew slur, Serwer says, that’s basically equivalent to the old denigration of “house negroes”—in other words, that the “Juicebox Mafia” consists of self-hating Jews who’ve begun internalizing the stereotypes of their oppressors. Serwer doesn’t quite buy the charge. And neither does Ta-Nahisi Coates, writing on his Atlantic blog. But Coates has a deeper problem: “The real issue,” he says “is a shocking lack of imagination among the Jewish people. Seriously, how could those who gave us Phillip Roth and Michael Chabon also give us a phrase as unliterary, and unevocative as ‘Juicebox Mafia?’”

The Self-Hate Hustle [The Root]

House Jews and Field Jews

Bibi Backs Birthers!

At least, so says a TV kook


So you know who started the whole “birther” silliness, that nutty idea that Barack Obama isn’t actually an American and is thus ineligible to be president? Benjamin Netanyahu, at least according to Wayne Madsen, a sometime Counterpunch contributor and talking head who is also the publisher of an eponymous online report covering “politically incorrect and politically embarrassing stories.” Last night, Madsen appeared on a Russia Today broadcast pointing out that leading birther spokeswoman Orly Taitz flew to Tel Aviv immediately after releasing a phony Kenyan birth certificate, and that she is from Moldova, homeland of Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. . “Netanyahu has a very strong base in the U.S.,” Madsen said. “It’s very easy for him to bring this whole canard back.” Madsen asserted.

Worth remember: Madsen reported last year that the Emperors Club, the prostitution outfit frequented by fallen former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, was actually a Mossad front that outed Spitzer in retaliation for his investigations of Russian-Israeli organized crime rings.

Here’s the Russia Today clip:

Previously: Birthers Melt Down

Fringe Jewish Group Blasts APA Gay Decision

We can too make ’em straight, JONAH says

(David McNew/Getty Images)

When the American Psychological Association declared last week that its member therapists should not offer “reparative therapy or other treatments” that promise to turn gay patients straight, there were howls of outrage from the expected sources: conservative Christian groups that promise to do just that. But it turns out such beliefs aren’t the sole province of those who believe in Jesus. The group Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality, known as JONAH (insert your own blowhole-related pun here), criticized the APA’s resolution, too, claiming that “the secular bias in the report against religious values” encourages religious clients to blaspheme by suggesting “an alternative religion or lifestyle that affirms their gayness.” JONAH was founded in 1999 by two New Jersey Orthodox Jewish couples with gay kids, and it claims to help those “struggling with unwanted same-sex attractions to journey out of homosexuality” with the help of support groups, therapy referrals, and lots of books and tapes. JONAH Director Arthur Goldberg, who is presumably not the former Supreme Count justice and U.N. ambassador, chairs a handful of homosexuality-pathologizing organizations and wrote Light in the Closet: Torah, Homosexuality, and the Power to Change. He called the APA resolution an “unbalanced, scientifically flawed document,” noting that it was prepared by six “gay-identified therapists,” Evidently, gays not only flout Biblical law but also make inadequate researchers.

Jewish Group Slams Ban on Counseling Homosexuals Straight [Arutz Sheva]

Tablet Today

Two legacies, upgraded salt, and Israel’s fighting sport


Adam Kirsch asserts that a new biography tries too hard to convince readers that Leonard Bernstein’s politics “should matter to us.” Liel Leibovitz mourns the loss of Israeli writer and artist Amos Kenan, who was more than the sum of his achievements. Mimi Sheraton rhapsodizes on salt. Lee Smith takes a look at the popular Israeli martial art, Krav Maga. And, of course, more to come on The Scroll.

Daybreak: Boston Jews Divided

A letter, a warning, and more from the news


• Boston’s Jewish community is torn between those who support the recall of Israeli consul Nadav Tamir for his criticism of his country’s policies, and those who admire him; the split reflects a conflict over President Obama’s Israel policy in the “epicenter of Jewish liberalism.” [JPost]
• A letter to Obama signed by 71 senators—including only six of the 13 Jewish senators—and backed by AIPAC implores Arab leaders to take “tangible steps” toward recognizing Israel. [JPost]
• Two experts make a case that a two-state solution would not solve the real problem of historical tension between Israelis and Palestinians, who, “whenever they inch toward an artful compromise over the realities of the present, are inexorably drawn back to the ghosts of the past.” [NYT]
• Israel is warning vacationing citizens to leave the Sinai area of Egypt immediately, suspecting terror attacks during the upcoming High Holiday period. [Haaretz]
• 90-year-old former Nazi Josef Scheungraber was given a (presumably short) life sentence by the court in Munich. [NYT]

Sundown: Mother Tongue

Pundit love, school apartheid, and Zappa’s birthright


• A new study out of Haifa University says that the more love for Israel you have in your heart, the less of an accent you will have when speaking Hebrew. [Haaretz]
• Last night, the mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, had his car pummeled with stones by ultra-Orthodox protesters. [JPost]
• Jon Stewart is “a staunch liberal, but he’s a thoughtful liberal”; thus, neoconservatives enjoy sparring with him on his show. [NY Mag]
• The Israeli Supreme Court ordered an end to policies at a school in a West Bank settlement that segregated Ashkenzi and Sephardic students, including separate entrances, classrooms, and recess times. [Ynet]
• Michael Wrublewski, an Australian son of Holocaust survivors “best known as the man who resuscitated basketball in Sydney,” threw a huge party celebrating his life after finding out he has terminal cancer. [JTA]
• Back in 1979, Frank Zappa was criticized by the ADL for his song parodying Barbra Streisand, “Jewish Princess.” Says former tourmate Napoleon Murphy Brock, “Zappa was the child of southern Italian, Syrian-Greek immigrants with Jewish roots. He had a right to create such texts.” [Spiegel]

Fatah Conference Ends

Issues broadsides on Israel, Hamas

Abbas at the opening of the conference.(Thaer Ganaim/PPO via Getty Images)

At Fatah’s sixth General Assembly last week—the first the political party has held without its founder, Yasser Arafat—Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said that he will not negotiate a peace deal with Israel until the Netanyahu government accepts the two-state solution (something Netanyahu appeared to do at his Bar-Ilan speech last month) and halts construction on all Israeli settlements (something the Obama administration has been pressuring Israel to do for six months). Abbas also reaffirmed the Palestinian right to “resistance,” which he clarified should not take the form of terrorism. He accused Israel of conducting an “ethnic cleansing” program in Jerusalem to void that city of its centuries-old Arab character (Fatah adopted a position paper arguing for the incorporation of all of Jerusalem into a future Palestine), and, once again, refused to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. However, earning just as much, if not more, censure than Israel at the conference halls and public squares of Bethlehem, where the General Assembly occurred, was Hamas—Fatah’s main rival for power in the West Bank and Gaza. Abbas accused his enemy party, which prohibited 400 Fatah delegates from leaving Gaza to attend the convention, of being responsible for the giant breach in Palestinian politics and of murdering opposition figures. Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman—not exactly a catalyst to happy Arab-Israeli relations—said the outcome of the Fatah convention “bur[ied] any chance” of an Arab-Israeli peace accord in the near future.

Abbas: Popular Resistance to Go On [JPost]
Lieberman: Fatah Platform Buries Chance for Peace Deal [Haaretz]

Wretched Rivers Roast

Joan was the only highlight of her Comedy Central special

Reiner and Rivers at the roast.(Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Roast of Joan Rivers Sun, Aug 9 10pm / 9c
Joan Rivers – Disgusted, Disappointed and Appalled
Live Twitter Roast Roast Master Kathy Griffin Zombie Paparazzi Game

The Comedy Central Roast of Joan Rivers, which aired last night, was a bomb filled with deadly gay jokes and Madoff references, except for Carl Reiner, who “was adorable trotting out curse words he’d never had the freedom or chutzpah to use on national television before,” reports the A.V. Club’s Nathan Rabin in a review today. Apparently, Reiner called the septuagenarian a “cunt”; Rivers, expressing her mock disgust for such “vulgar” language, excoriated him to save words like that “for home when the synagogue calls for money.” In another clip from the red carpet, Rivers chose Mel Gibson as her favorite Nazi and clucked her tongue at Barbra Streisand for marrying a non-Jew. Perhaps when you’ve spent 40 years mocking yourself, you’re destined to wield the sharpest sword at your own roast.

Comedy Central Roast of Joan Rivers [A.V. Club]

Joshua Fattal, Detained Hiker and Brooklyn Yeshiva Student

Same name, different men—despite what the blogosphere is saying


One of the three American hikers who’ve been detained in Iran since July 31 shares a name with a Brooklyn yeshiva student, leading to a mix-up that’s been spreading around the internet. Last weekend, the conservative political blog Maggie’s Notebook claimed that Joshua Fattal, the detained hiker, “is a resident of Eugene, Oregon, and a junior at the Yeshivah of Flatbush in Brooklyn, NY, according to his bio at The Jewish Week where he is a contributor.” Of course, it’s highly improbable that a 27-year-old Oregonian would be commuting to an Orthodox high school in Brooklyn and writing for the teen supplement of a New York Jewish paper—and, in fact it’s not true. They’re two different people, with the same name. “We have a case of mistaken identity,” said Shira Vickar-Fox, who edits the Jewish Week’s Fresh Ink for Teens. “The Joshua Fattal in Iran is not the one who writes for our publication.” A secretary at Yeshivah of Flatbush, who would not give her name or any additional information about Fattal, concurred that “it’s not our student.”

Still, the story has been picked up by websites from Lebanon’s Al-Manar TV to the white supremacist Vanguard News Network. Like the Iranian government, which has questioned whether the hikers were in fact spies, these news organizations have a vested interest in implying that they were there not there as tourists. But an agenda doesn’t always drive the confusion: this one has has even made it into the Jewish blogosphere.

Crazed Health-Reform Opponents

See Nazis and ‘death panels,’ blame Zeke Emanuel


Traditionally, if you were going to pick an Emanuel brother to hate, you’d most likely pick either Rahm—known variously as the White House chief of staff, Machiavellian enforcer, and “Undersecretary for Go Fuck Yourself”—or Ari, the Hollywood superagent who inspired Jeremy Piven’s supremely arrogant, supremely successful Entourage character. But now, thanks to the rapid descent of the health care debate into the netherworld of Nazi references and Commie jokes, the latest hot target for conservative activists is the eldest brother, Ezekiel, a physician and doctorate in political philosophy who is advising the Obama Administration on health-care policy.

Last week, Minnesota Republican Rep. Michelle Bachmann attacked Ezekiel Emanuel in a floor speech, citing a New YorkPost columnist’s interpretation of his writings about rationalizing the distribution of health care to argue that under the Democrats’ healthcare plan, elderly or disabled patients like her senile father-in-law would be stiffed medical care. On Friday, Sarah Palin—making the most of her unemployment—posted an item on Facebook inflating Bachmann’s critique into an attack on Emanuel’s “Orwellian thinking” and accusing Obama of planning to convene “death panels” of bureaucrats who will decide, essentially, who shall live and who shall die. It’s not really clear how far the Nazi trope will go—Mengele references are already circulating in the outer reaches of the Free Republican universe, after surfacing, perhaps predictably, on the blog of perennial presidential candidate (and anti-Semitic crank) Lyndon LaRouche—but if Zeke is anything like his brothers, it’s not likely to keep him up at night. After all, even actual torture doesn’t scare him: “I’ve had various episodes where people have not liked what I said and tried to put the thumb screws to me to shut me up,” he told The New York Times last spring.

Sarah Palin: Statement on the Current Health Care Debate [Facebook]
Previously: Limbaugh Sees Swastikas Everywhere

Chabad Wants Honor for High-Level Nazi

Intelligence chief saved the rebbe


We’re not sure how we missed this headline in the Jerusalem Post last week, because it’s really an excellent one: “Chabad: Make Nazi Commander a ‘Righteous Gentile.’” Yep, it appears that the Nazis’ intelligence chief—Admiral Wilhelm Canaris—was instrumental in helping Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef Schneerson, the sixth Lubavitcher rebbe, escape from the Warsaw Ghetto along with his family and retinue. For this, the Chabadniks have petitioned Yad Vashem, to have him declared an official Righteous Gentile. The director of the Simon Weisenthal Center in Israel is against the move—“it smacks of a certain particularism,” he told the Post—and Yad Vashem has previously turned down a different request for Canaris’s righteousification, because he did not directly risk his life to save Jews, instead merely used his bureaucratic authority as a commander, and because he abetted the Nazi war effort, rather than opposed it. (That he was hanged by SS officers on April 9, 1945, for attempting to assassinate Hitler would seem to undermine both those arguments, but what do we know?) The Yad Vashem people told the Post they haven’t yet received this new request and so couldn’t comment on it.

Chabad: Make Nazi Commander a ‘Righteous Gentile’ [JPost via FailedMessiah]

On Tablet Today

Rabbis, drugs, and rock n’ roll


On Tablet magazine’s weekly podcast, Vox Tablet, Liel Leibovitz discusses the prevalence of references to Jewish liturgy in Israel’s hottest pop music. Marjorie Ingalls worries about how to address the subject of drugs with her kids amid the media blitz commemorating Woodstock. Marissa Brostoff tells of an unlikely rabbi who found his ideal post in Montana. And more coming to you throughout the day here on The Scroll.

Natalie Portman, Hasid

Trailer for ‘New York, I Love You’ sure to thrill Jewish boys everywhere


It’s no secret that Natalie Portman, a half-Israeli Long Island girl turned Harvard grad, has long been a favorite crush-slash-fetish object of dorky, smart, devoutly secular boys, the real-world antecedents of Zach Braff’s Garden State smitten doofus. But now she seems poised to perhaps serve the same role for those boys’ more observant bretheren. The newly released trailer for this fall’s forthcoming New York I Love You, a star-studded compilation of short films about love in the Big Apple from the people behind Paris, Je T’Aime, offers a glimpse of Portman’s character, this time a young Hasidic woman. You’ll find her wedding scene at about 1 minute, 8 seconds into the clip.

New York, I Love You-Trailer [YouTube]

Daybreak: A Jew in Fatah

A consul chastised, a tunnel bombed, and more in the news


• The only Israeli Jew in the Palestinian faction Fatah is seeking election to Fatah’s Revolutionary Council. [AP]
• Israel has recalled its consul in Boston after a critical memo he wrote titled “Melancholy thoughts on Israel-U.S. relations.” [JTA]
• The Israeli army bombed a tunnel suspected of use for smuggling explosives into Gaza from Egypt. [Reuters]
• Sri Lanka will soon have its first official mikveh. [JPost]
• And New Yorker music critic Alex Ross begins a three-part series of blog posts on Leonard Bernstein’s involvement in politics with a post on the FBI’s interest in the composer. [New Yorker]

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