Posted by JewishJournal.com
Iran’s Guardian Council has ruled out the possibility of nullifying the results of the country’s disputed presidential election, saying irregularities were reported before the balloting—not during or after.
The announcement, reported by Iran’s government-funded Press TV on Tuesday, was another in a series of inconsistent stances by the council on how to handle the unrest stemming from the disputed June 12 race. Read the full story at CNN.com.
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June 22, 2009 | 5:10 pm
Posted by Tom Tugend
The Journal’s June 20 story on the largely fizzled campaign to “deshelve” imported Israeli products at Trader Joe’s stores was widely picked up, including on the LA Times web site and in the blogosphere.
Gary Fouse’s Radarsite added a comment from an anonymous Trader Joe’s employee, as follows:
… HI! I WORK FOR TRADER JOE’S AND I JUST WANTED TO THANK YOU FOR ALL OF YOUR NEGATIVE PUBLICITY! WE ARE SO BUSY MORE THAN EVER! OUR TJ’S DOES OVER $100,000 A DAY AND WE ARE BREAKING ARE YTD (YEAR TO DATE) DOLLAR AMOUNTS WHICH MEANS WE HAVE TO ORDER ALOT MORE ISRALI PRODUCTS THAT ARE FLYING OFF THE SHELVES SO YOU ARE DOING THEM A BIG FAVOR AS WELL AS OUR EMPLOYEE’S WE HAVE TO WORK OVER TIME BECAUSE OF OUR HIGH VOLUME SALES THANKS TO YOU! YOUR AWESOME!! PLEASE KEEP DOING WHAT YOU ARE DOING! WE ARE MAKING SO MUCH MONEY AND WE OWE ALL TO YOU!
June 21, 2009 | 12:59 pm
Posted by David Suissa
Millions of Iranians are marching for the democratic freedoms we take for granted. Their government is suppressing their protests with brutality and violence. The whole world is watching.
This is your moment.
This is your moment to lead the world and teach timid leaders this lesson: There’s a lot more to global diplomacy than “mutual respect and mutual interests.”
There’s also human values.
Like the freedom to speak your mind, practice your religion, protest peacefully and have your vote count.
Where’s the only place in the Middle East where you can enjoy all those freedoms?
That’s right, Israel: a Jewish country that provides more freedom for Arabs and Muslims than any Arab or Muslim country.
Why are you not getting on the airwaves to trumpet your country’s heroic championing of those universal values?
Why are you not expressing unabashed support for the millions of courageous Iranians who are risking their lives for the freedoms that Israel stands for?
This is not a time for realpolitik or clever calculations. This is a time of revolution; a time when great leaders are made. Let Obama obsess over his carefully calibrated responses. You can act like Churchill and light up the world with your courageous truth. History will remember that you supported the forces of freedom.
Who cares if the brutal and deceitful Mullahs will try to exploit your support for their gain. Don’t let their conniving ways stop you from taking a principled stand. Have faith, like your ancestors, in the ultimate power of truth and justice.
If the only country that represents freedom and democracy in the Middle East won’t take a stand in its own neighborhood, then who will? Egypt, where they imprison gays? Jordan, where they imprison poets? Saudi Arabia, where they stone women?
We’re always complaining about Israel’s terrible PR—how the world is obsessed with the Palestinian conflict and ignores all of Israel’s virtues. Well, here’s your chance to finally change the subject.
The whole world—and history—is watching.
June 20, 2009 | 9:17 pm
Posted by Rob Eshman
The rabbi to one of the largest Iranian Jewish congregations in the world spoke directly to some 1200 congregants on Saturday morning from the pulpit, saying the events unfolding in Iran echo the Biblical promise of freedom.
“The people marching on the streets of Iran have seen a vision of freedom,” said David Wolpe from the pulpit of Sinai Temple at Sabbath morningservices
Sinai is home to hundreds of Ianian Jewish families. Most arrived in Los Angeles following the Islamic Revolution 30 years ago, and settled in the West Los Angeles neighborhoods around Sinai.
On Saturday morning, it was a largely Persian Jewish crowd that filled the pews.
“We all know that 50 percnt, 70 percent of Iran’s population is under 30 years old,” said Wolpe. “They do not know what it’s like to be free. But they have heard. They have seen. They have the vision of freedom, and that’s why they are marching.”
Wolpe echoed the beliefs of many of his congregants when he cautioned against over-optimism, even if the protesters get their way. Most Iranian Jews maintain that Iran will likely still remain a theocracy at odds with the United States and Israel no matter who is in power.
But still, the rabbi said, the protests are hopeful sign that freedom is stirring and that Israel’s example of democracy in the Middle East may spread elsewhere.
Wolpe is a Conservative rabbi and author who was named as the top rabbi in America in a Newsweek magazine-published tory.
Two months ago, Wolpe and his congregation hosted New York Times columnist Roger Cohen after Cohen published a series of columns from Iran that Wolpe’s Iranian-bon congregants underestimated the cruelty and rigidity of the current regime. An outpouring of letters prompted Cohen to appear before the congregation to defend his views in a vigorous debate (click here for a video of the confrontation).
During the current post-election unrest, Cohen, reporting from Iran, has admitted his columns promoting the idea of a more democratic Iran were mistaken.
For more on Rabbi David Wolpe, click here.
June 19, 2009 | 4:02 pm
Posted by JewishJournal.com
Now the anti-Israel maniacs want people to boycott “Israeli couscous” at Trader Joe’s. What prejudice! Israel has problems, yes (why, I just posted on one such problem), but the hard-left boycott-Israel folks are so discriminatory it’s repulsive. My recommendation: Head to Trader Joe’s and buy anything made or grown in Israel. I hear the Israeli couscous goes well with grilled scapegoat, by the way. more.
Background on previous boycotts
From Rabbi Isaac Jeret of South Bay, California, comes this news about boycotts of Israeli products, a tactic copied from Europe into the U.S. The particular boycott is of Trader Joe’s, a nationwide chain that has a store on 14th Street in Manhattan. Other stores will be boycotted, too. They weren’t named.
The Boycott Divestment Campaign is a coalition of anti-Israel groups based in Pittsburgh, PA.. Affiliated with it is the South Bay Mobilization Group (actually from another, more northern California area than the Rabbi’s). The boycott is scheduled to start on Saturday, June 20. Before that, a group of boycotters entered a Trader Joe’s in Pittsburgh, knocked Israeli products off the shelves, and accosted customers. The manager threw them out as trespassers. [Why not as vandals? Let their bad behavior work against them!] more.
June 17, 2009 | 5:31 pm
Posted by Orit Arfa
Leader of the Jewish Leadership faction of the Likud, Moshe Feiglin—the man who makes his key rival, Netanyahu, look like a dove—gave his response to Obama’s Cairo speech’s through youtube. The best part of the video is the backdrop of the Beit HaMikdash (Holy Temple) on the Temple Mount. If that’s not a slap in the face (or a tossing of a shoe) to, basically, the world, then I don’t know what is.
June 17, 2009 | 4:39 pm
Posted by JewishJournal.com
June 15, 2009 | 6:57 pm
Posted by Orit Arfa
At least the line wasn’t long. Not like it was at the Gillette Stadium in Boston back in 2005, where I sat among thousands of fellow American Idol wannabes on the benches, suffering through their out-of-tune rehearsals in the New England rain while watching hordes exit without the golden ticket, wondering to myself, “why the hell did I rent a car and drive from New York to do this?”
Less than a hundred people waited with me in the parking lot of the Vanguard nightclub on Hollywood Boulevard for the LA-leg of the auditions for Kochav Nolad (“A Star is Born”), Israel’s version of the pop cult favorite, which for the first time scouted talent in the Golden Medina.
Onto its seventh season, perhaps the show exhausted the talent in a country of only seven million—which, after subtracting the Arab population, ultra-Orthodox Jews, self-respecting adults and children—only leaves a few hundred thousand teenagers and 20-something year-olds, and how many of those really have killer voices?
Maybe Israel’s Adam Lambert equivalent had made yeridah (downward immigration) in search of super-stardom, even though the highly-rated Israeli singing contest is known to produce (or manufacture) Israeli pop stars like Ninette Tayeb and Harel Scatt. So, Kochav Nolad searched among the community of yordim to see who deserves to make aliyah—to rise to Israel, and stardom. As an Israeli-American with an Israeli mother, I qualified. For me, like the other Israelis and half-Israelis, auditioning for the show was one way to relive life in ha’aretz.
The auditions proceeded on-time without the notorious Israeli balagan (disorganization) I anticipated, but it retained a quintessential Israeli informality. Unlike the Idol auditions, which had the judges Randy Jackson, Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul out of reach at some hotel, Kochav Nolad’s judges, Israeli singer Margalit “Margol” Tzanani and journalist/filmmaker Gal Uhovsky, drove up in their car waving to everybody, with the show’s host, Tzvika Hadar, greeting the contenders with a warm “ma nishma?”
I wasn’t the only half-breed Israeli trying out. Carmel Hollander, 18, flew from University of Arizona back to Los Angeles where she grew-up with her sabra parents.
“I’ve always loved singing and all my cousins and family who live in Israel love and show and said ‘you can do it,” she said in a pure American accent. She wasn’t worried that she, like me, fumbled at times in Hebrew. “They told me there was a Russian girl on the show who had a weird accent and she went really far in the audition.”
Ariel Belkin, 26, looked like a true musician, waiting in line with his guitar. The yored from Herziliyah of three years is the lead singer of his own band, Belkins. “My family signed me up and they called here,” he said.
At 60, Ze’ev Hod stood out as the oldest contender. Unlike Idol, Kochav Nolad has no age limit. He flew from San Francisco for the day just to fulfill his dream of trying out.
Whereas Idol had us line up in fours in front of casting associates wearing sunglasses, here the show’s director, Yoav Tzafir, interviewed us personally in groups of four. He asked me what I did in Israel, what I do here, and what my parents do (as if that makes me a better singer—do they want them to flip the bill to Israel?). Silly me planned to sing the song that didn’t get me through Idol, “I Need a Hero” by Bonnie Tyler (I think I’m in a perennial search for a hero to save me from whatever drives me to do this). I told him about my audition at Idol, which rejected me with a lifeless: “You’re all very good singers, but not of the caliber of American Idol.” I asked Tzafir for a different result.
I belted it out, interspersing the chorus of a Hebrew rendition of the song. Then he asked me to sing my Hebrew choice (a good sign?) but I completely blanked on the lyrics of Shiri Maimon’s “The Silence that Remains”, a balled that earned the Kochav Nolad runner-up an impressive fourth place in the 2005 Eurovision song contest.
As everyone else took their turn, we waited on sofas set up on the dance floor. Antsy and creatively frustrated, I asked the accompanist to join me as I boldly sang in front of everybody my corny pop favorites: “Like a Virgin”, “Hit Me Baby one More Time”, and, of course, “I Need a Hero.” People looked at me like I was this strange Ameri-kaki (as we Americans are endearingly referred to back in Israel.)
“Why aren’t you all singing?” I hollered at the timid Israelis, from whom I expected a lot more chutzpah. Finally, others took to the dancefloor, timidly at first, but soon the room turned into a cozy Israeli sing-along fest.
After about two hours, Tzafir came out and announced the top ten. My friends from line, Belkin and Hod, made the cut (the latter for ageism, I’m assuming, although he sang sweetly).
As the ten performed on the dancefloor, the judges rejected most of them with overly harsh pronouncements that made the acerbic Simon look like the sweet Paula in comparison, prompting one reject I befriended to wonder whether or not the results were already pre-determined. Only one contender, an 18-year old, got to perform at the finale taking place that night as part of an overpriced party at the Vanguard. He flew to Israel for the finals.
“It’s not that you don’t sing well, we’re looking for a very high level,” Tzafir told the rest of us in Hebrew. Wait a minute? Isn’t that exactly what they told us rejects at Idol. I confronted him about that. “Well, they must be doing something right. It’s a good show.”
And I have to say, although I’m still a frustrated singer who has to suffice with Karaoke, Kochav Nolad’s audition was so much better.