L.A. JCC Shooter Renounces Racism

Says it makes him happier not to hate.


Buford O’Neal Furrow Jr., who stormed a JCC in the Los Angeles suburb of Granada Hills a decade ago, has now apologized, and claims he’s broken with his white supremacist past. In a letter responding to a request for an interview from the Los Angeles Daily News, Furrow, who is serving a life sentence without possibility of parole, wrote that he has thrown away his “racist books, literature, etc.” At the time of the shootings, he insisted that the attack—in which he wounded five people, including three children, and killed a Filipino postal worker—was intended as “a wakeup call to America to kill Jews.” Today, Furrow, an Olympia, Washington, native who had a long involvement with the Aryan Nation extremist group, claims “a life based on hate is no life at all.” “I now publicly renounce all bias toward anyone based on race, creed, color, sexual orientation and am a much happier person,” he wrote.

Which is nice for him, but maybe not enough for the victims. One refused to be interviewed by the paper, and the father of Josh Stepakoff, then a 6-year-old camper who was shot in the thigh and back, said he didn’t think the apology was sincere. “This doesn’t change what he did,” Alan Stepakoff said. Relatives of the postal worker, Joseph Ileto, agreed, but were more magnanimous. “It still hurts that our brother and son was taken from us, and a letter won’t make up for that,” Ismael Ileto told the paper. But, he added, “It gives us some type of hope that people are able to rehabilitate themselves.”

JCC Shooter Furrow Renounces Past Beliefs [LADN]

Apple to Introduce a Tablet?

Get your own name, Jobs!


Apple, the computer-maker-turned-cult, is holding another one of its product unveilings tomorrow. As per usual with such spectacles, executives are tight-lipped, bloggers are hysterical, and the rumor mill runs furiously. Some believe Apple will announce a fancy new iPod; others claim that the Beatles’ catalogue is finally coming to iTunes, Apple’s online music store. But there’s another rumor, and one we at Tablet Magazinefind troubling: Apple, whisper some techno-soothsayers, will soon introduce a new product, a cross between an iPod and a laptop computer, a flat-screened beauty designed for watching movies on the go and speedily surfing the web. The product’s alleged name? Tablet.

We’re a little bit flattered, of course. But we’re also concerned. Is the Internet big enough for both of us? We’ll soon see. And, by the way, have you heard about Jeffrey Goldberg’s biography of Judah Maccabee, forthcoming from Nextbook Press? We’re thinking we’ll call it the MacBook.

Apple Telegraphs iPods; Fans See Beatles, Tablets [AP]

Israel Approves Settlement Construction

Seen as a sop to right-wing parties

A boy outside the biggest settlement, Maale Adumim, yesterday.(Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images)

In preparation for a forthcoming six-month freeze on settlement construction, Israel over the weekend authorized plans for 455 new houses to be built in the West Bank. It’s a move contrary to U.S. and Arab demands for a complete halt on settlement grown, but apparently it’s not contrary enough to further stall already long-stalled Arab-Israeli peace talks. For one thing, most of these houses are to be built near the 1967 lines in the settlements of Har Gilo, Givat Zeev, Maale Adumim, Kedar and Alon Shvut—territories which all sides, either tacitly or explicitly, concede are going to wind up under Israel’s control. For another, this license for construction is seen in Israel as an emollient to the far-right parties that participate in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition government. Indeed, the Jerusalem Post leads this morning with an article that Avigdor Lieberman’s Israel Beiteinu party has no plans to topple the current administration in protest over the freeze. Lieberman himself, the foreign minister, is not really involved in the multilateral talks (although he is meeting with U.S. envoy George Mitchell next week) and is happy so long as Israel is allowed to build unfettered in the contested capital of Jerusalem.

Israel Tries to Placate Settlers by Allowing Some Construction Before Freeze [NYT]
Lieberman: Despite Settlement Freeze, Right Won’t Topple Gov’t [JPost]

Today on Tablet

L’affaire Dreyfus, Truman and Israel, Jews on Georgia’s mind


Wesley Yang reviews a new history of the Dreyfus Affair that compares France’s treatment of Dreyfus to American treatment of the inmates at Guantánamo Bay. Adam Kirsch considers a new book tracing Harry Truman’s consequential decision to recognize the state of Israel. Pamela Renner reveals why the country of Georgia, for all its love of Jews, has only about 25 of them. Marjorie Ingall frets about instilling a healthy attitude toward food in her children. Josh Lambert looks at what Jewish-themed books are due out, as he does every week. And The Scroll will provide numerous updates on the important and the fun, as it does every day.

Daybreak: Gates Encourages Arab Arms Race

No ‘Intifada’ in NYC, ugly Croatian soccer chants


• In an Al Jazeera interview, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates advised Arab governments to “strengthen their security capabilities” as a deterrent to Iran. [AFP]
• But when asked about America’s “double standard” toward Israel’s nuclear capability, Gates defended the U.S. posture. [JPost]
• A federal judge ruled free-speech protections did not prevent New York City from firing the principal of a public school designed to teach Arab culture after she defended “Intifada NYC” t-shirts. [Arutz Sheva]
• The Croatian national soccer team has been accused of using fascist slogans and songs, some about the Holocaust, to excite their fans before matches. [Haaretz]
• Russia denied a report that a cargo ship hijacked by pirates earlier this summer was carrying anti-aircraft missiles to Iran. [ynet]

Sundown: Madonna, a Rabbi, and Jesus Walk into a Tomb

Exodus to cable, kosher ovens, and a bar becomes a mitzvah


• To cap off her visit to Israel, Madonna visited the tomb of revered kabbalist Rabbi Isaac Luria, which was worthwhile if only for this sentence: “Madonna was accompanied in her visit by Rabbi Michael Berg, her own rabbi’s brother, as well as her partner Jesus.” (Also, check out these lively comments.) [Haaretz]
• GE has added a new feature to some of its ovens, sure to please the halachically-inclined: “Sabbath mode” allows the observant to have hot food on their day of rest without turning anything on or off. [Oregonian]
• In an article filled with the type of shticky humor that once characterized Jewish TV, the Baltimore Jewish Times investigates the fact that “today’s Jewish characters have fled from the networks and found a homeland on cable.” [BJT]
• Plans have been approved to transform a London pub into an ultra-Orthodox synagogue; supporters say the change will promote “safety and well-being,” while detractors submit that the 250-year-old bar was hardly “a backstreet boozer.” [Jewish Chronicle]
• A fascinating tale of a woman whose mother was Jewish, father was a Nazi, and baby carriage was a gift from Hitler’s mistress Eva Braun. [BBC]

Nuclear War of Words

Is the U.S. fibbing in its claims against Iran?


In advance of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s forthcoming report on Iran’s nuclear program, Iranian ambassador to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, has drafted an 8-page letter to the agency’s outgoing head, Mohammed ElBaradei. In it, Soltanieh accuses the United States of relying on “fabricated, baseless and false” evidence to support its claim that Iran, in flagrant violation of international law, is still pursuing a nuclear weapons program while employing deceit and subterfuge to convince the rest of the world that it’s not. The Jerusalem Post quotes from the missive: “By interfering in the work of the IAEA and exerting various political pressures, the government of the United States attempted to spoil the cooperative spirit between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the IAEA.”

The agency has wanted the U.S. and other Western government to disclose more of their intelligence suggesting Iran has belligerent intentions (specifically, against Israel)—the mullahs, along with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, have long insisted they want nuclear energy for civilian purposes only. Nevertheless, the forthcoming report is said to call for tougher penalties on Iran, which has failed to answer the IAEA’s outstanding questions.

Iran: US ‘forged’ documents to prove we are building bomb [J-Post]

New Solondz Film Tackles Pedophilia, Bar Mitzvahs

Reviews in from Venice Film Festival premiere


Early reviews are in for Todd Solondz’s new film Life During Wartime, a semi-sequel to 1998’s Happiness and, it appears, the director’s most explicitly Jewish work yet. The dysfunctional Jordan family is still grappling with incest, pedophilia, and suicide, and now a bar mitzvah, too. “There’s a strong Jewish subtext in the film, with the Jordan sisters’ Judaism, latent in Happiness, now exploited for both comic and dramatic effect—the latter most obviously by exploring rabbinical concepts of repentance and forgiveness as Trish’s youngest son approaches his Bar Mitzvah,” writes Screen Daily.

Variety, which claims Solondz “may have made his best film” yet, praises the bar mitzvah boy, Timmy (played by Dylan Riley Snyder), as “the most compelling character this time around”; like Dawn Weiner, the relentlessly bullied middle school heroine of Solondz’s Welcome to the Dollhouse, he’s tormented at school after discovering that his pedophile father, whom he’d thought dead, is alive and has been released from prison. Timmy’s mom Trish, meanwhile, has taken up with an older man “after discovering that he, too, loves Israel,” says the Hollywood Reporter, in a review that heralds Solondz as “the true heir to Woody Allen.” The film premiered yesterday at the Venice Film Festival, where Solondz apparently couldn’t resist making a public comment about the “wonderful fascist building” his press conference was held in.

Life During Wartime [Screen Daily]
Life During Wartime [Variety]
Life During Wartime—Film Review [Hollywood Reporter]
Previously: Today I Am an Actor

NJDC to MSNBC: Watch It!

Liberal network responds by blocking Buchanan nonsense


We’re always a little leery of stories commemorating anniversaries—we did, after all grow up in a house decorated with one of those twee bronze plaques announcing that on some random date in the 1800s “nothing happened”—but Pat Buchanan, history buff that he is, apparently can’t resist. On Tuesday, he put a column on his blog, which MSNBC then picked up on its Web site, noting the 70th anniversary of Hitler’s invasion of Poland, which triggered World War Two. Buchanan, most recently the author of a book called Churchill, Hitler, and the Unnecessary War, used the occasion to wonder whether Hitler really meant to start a war at all, and, correspondingly, whether it wasn’t the case that the Allies—mainly the British—just overreacted.

The argument starts to unravel right around the point Buchanan writes that “Hitler wanted to end the war in 1940, almost two years before the trains began to roll to the camps”—which, presumably, is also the point at which the good folks at the National Jewish Democratic Council decided to intervene. Press secretary Aaron Keyak got a column up on the Huffington Post asking why Buchanan was defending Hitler, but instead of wasting time trying to outargue the pundit, the NJDC trained its eye on MSNBC, a network they would normally expect to count as a liberal friend. “There is a place on MSNBC where he may belong,” Keyak wrote, and linked to Keith Olbermann’s Countdown. And, voila! Media victory ensued: MSNBC took down the column. NJDC couldn’t, however, resist a parting shot. “MSNBC took the responsible action,” wrote president David Harris. “But no worthy news organization should employ and promote a commentator who engages in such vile fiction.” Note to Phil Griffin: Watch it!

Why is Pat Buchanan Defending Hitler? [Huffington Post]

Dov Charney Sheds Tears for Laid-Off Immigrants

Replacing his usual bodily fluid of choice


Known weirdo and founder of American Apparel Dov Charney has channeled his crazy-pants energy into something kind of touching and more trenchant than his usual lechery. Yesterday, his sweatshop-free company had to fire 1,500 employees because of questions about their immigration status. Devastated at having to say goodbye to such a large portion of his harem—er, workforce—Charney penned a tearful letter where he recounts that his grandparents were Jewish immigrants with experience in the garment trade, and bemoans the fact that “the Obama administration has failed to bring about immigration reform” especially when “the rallying cry of the Obama campaign was the words of Cesar Chavez ‘Yes we can’ or “Si se puede.’”

Although it may be a bit soon to declare the president a failure, Charney is writing with the frustration of a long-time committed activist with a personal stake in the issue. His letter is accompanied by photos of his grandmother’s passport and pre-WWII sweatshops. While he usually does everything in his power to make the public forget that there is anything good about his business (“The Vegas Legging,” anyone?), it’s good to be reminded that his heart is in the right place even when his other body parts behave questionably.

American Apparel to Dismiss 1,500 Factory Workers
Dov Charney’s Tear-Stained Letter to His 1,500 Laid-off Employees [Gawker]

Carol Leifer Says a Dirty German Word

Maybe by accident


So, a month or so ago we drew your attention to the fact that former Seinfeld writer and co-producer Carol Leifer had outed herself as Jewish, lesbian, and vegan (in that order). Today, we noticed she’s featured in Ha’aretz, which ran an interview from this week’s Forward about her new memoir, When You Lie About Your Age, the Terrorists Win. The interview, by Michael Kaminer, runs through several of Leifer’s favorite lines—one about hiring a rent-a-rabbi for her father’s funeral, another about Hanukkah being the also-ran December holiday—with the plaint that they fall flat. “You find yourself wishing she’d take her foot off the brakes,” Kaminer writes. But he missed a trick: Leifer, who recently did an ad for PETA, jokes that fake chicken should be called “ficken”—a word that also happens to mean, in German, well, exactly the same thing as its closest English cognate. See? There’s always a sex joke somewhere with those Seinfeld alums.

The Queer Jewish Queen of Comedy [Forward, via Haaretz]

Unfriendly Ghosts

Haunt a Hungarian Holocaust survivor in a new film


The Holocaust gets a role in yet another movie this summer, as Tickling Leo hits theaters. It tells the story of a Lear-like Hungarian survivor and poet in the Catskills who suffers from dementia, wanders about naked, and has flashbacks to his childhood when his father, a member of the Judenrat, abetted the liquidation of Budapest’s ghetto. This all goes down right before Yom Kippur, when his two sons come for a visit. The film, says Stephen Holden, addresses “the difficulty of acknowledging and passing on painful family history” (kinda like last month’s Jacqueline Bisset Holocaust vehicle Death in Love); Newsday’s John Anderson calls the lead performance by Lawrence Pressman “a great thing to watch.” Meantime, director Jeremy Davidson (better known as the husband of Mary Stuart Masterson) tells the Jewish Week, “it was important to me to examine my personal themes and life issues. Fatherhood was one thing that scared me, and Judaism is one thing I struggled to understand and live better.”

Echoes of the Holocaust, Reverberating Through the Generations
Demented father, dreadful secrets in ‘Tickling Leo’ [Newsday]
Sour Piklers [Jewish Week]

On Tablet Today

Guns in the chapel, Palestinians in the heartland, and ruminations on maturity


Marissa Brostoff examines the politics below the surface of a film about Palestinian immigrants in America. Michael Weiss presents a video of rabbis learning to use guns for protection in synagogue. Liel Leibovitz discusses this week’s Torah portion on the subject of wisdom and age. And stay tuned for more right here on The Scroll.

Daybreak: Toronto Film Fest Under Fire

Settlement freeze postponed, Evangelicals and Israel, and more in the news


• Artists and writers including Jane Fonda and Naomi Klein sent a letter of protest against the Toronto International Film Festival for a planned segment focusing on films from Tel Aviv, which they say is tantamount to a propaganda campaign. [Reuters]
• In an interview with Evangelical pastor John Hagee, Elie Weisel said, “Whenever anyone does that, criticizes Israel, I say, ‘What are your credentials?’ Have you ever praised Israel? Have you ever defended Israel? Have you ever been on the side of Israel?” [USNWR]
• Evangelical students will now have the opportunity to build their cred by participating in the March of the Living, a trip through the former Nazi death camps in Poland and then to Israel; “The fact that this could happen to any group of people on the basis of their faith is something that all people of faith need to take very, very seriously,” says a Christian leader. [JPost]
• An aide to Benjamin Netanyahu says the Israeli P.M. will approve plans to build new homes for settlers before considering a later construction freeze. [Reuters]
• Meanwhile a source at the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv confirms it’s “doubtful” President Obama signed off on the plans. [Ynet]

Sundown: Dude Jumps Like a Lady

Freedom of the press, fight or flight, and juice for Jesus


Berlin 36, a new German documentary, tells the story of a female Jewish high-jumping phenom whom the Nazis replaced in the 1936 Olympics—with a man in a skirt. [Times of London]
• An interview with noted Holocaust denier David Irving will be featured in Spanish newspaper El Mundo’s series of “innovative” views on WWII marking the 70th anniversary of the war; an editor has promised that in this piece, Irving doesn’t deny the Holocaust, but rather blames it on the Allies. Innovation at work! [AP]
• In the New York Times Magazine, Norman Podhoretz evades a question about whether there is any Democrat he likes by selecting Joe Lieberman. [NYT]
• Israeli airline El Al is barring anyone displaying symptoms associated with swine flu from boarding their flights without a doctor’s note; no word on whether they will at least give the rejected passengers a bowl of chicken soup. [Ynet]
• Filmmaker Kamran Pasha undertakes a lengthy investigation into the possibility that Jesus was a vegetarian. One piece of evidence: some of JC’s earliest followers, the so-called Jewish Christians, “had a passionate commitment to vegetarianism.” [HuffPo]

Thank You!

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