Sacha Baron Cohen convulsed the Golden Globe audience on Monday evening as he picked up the top award for best actor in a comedy or musical movie, but Cambridge University's favorite alumnus also showed his serious side.
Addressing all those who still didn't get the point of "Borat: Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan" (such as the president of Iran), Baron Cohen told Variety and other backstage reporters:
"The movie is mocking Borat's beliefs. All his beliefs seem laughable -- whether he's homophobic or misogynistic or anti-Semitic, they're all seen as forms of delusion.
"He doesn't just think Jews are good with money, he thinks they can change their shape into little insects," he said. "And the point of that is to show that all prejudice is ridiculous."
On stage, Baron Cohen verbally reprised the film's famous nude wrestling match with co-star Kern Davitian.
"I saw some dark parts of America, an ugly side of America," Baron Cohen deadpanned. "I refer of course to the anus and testicles of my co-star," pointing to Davitian.
"When I was in that scene and I stared down and saw your two wrinkled golden globes on my chin, I thought to myself, 'I better win a bloody award for this.'"
"Borat" will gain some momentum from the Golden Globe honors but whether it's enough to propel him to an Oscar nomination or award is questionable.
Unlike the Golden Globes, which split the movie categories between "comedy or musical" and "drama," the Academy Awards combine them into a single category.
Baron Cohen would have to beat the entire field of top American and British actors to take the prize.
-- Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor
Former Carter Fellow Addresses Sinai Temple
Dr. Kenneth W. Stein, who broke with Jimmy Carter over "inaccuracies and distortions" in the former president's book, "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid," addressed about 600 people at Sinai Temple on Jan. 11. Co-sponsored by Sinai Temple and StandWithUs, the talk was Stein's first appearance outside of Atlanta since the Emory University scholar resigned his position as Middle East fellow with the university's Carter Center in December.
Stein's Sinai Temple address focused on factual misrepresentations in the book dealing with the wording of U.N. Resolution 242, Carter's Damascus meeting with Syrian President Hafez al-Assad and the Camp David accords. In each instance, Stein said Carter skewed the facts in favor of Israel's foes.
According to Stein, Carter is "deft, clever and intelligent" but lacking in understanding of the political and social culture of the Middle East. He believes that the "essence of Carter's anger" with Israel stems from his strained relationship with Prime Minister Menachem Begin whom, Stein said, "never gave Carter a fall-back position" during the Camp David negotiations.
Stein cited Carter's intelligence and remarkable memory, and said that while not anti-Semitic, the former president believes in the rectitude of his position.
During the question-and-answer session Rabbi David Wolpe asked whether Carter's dislike of Israel "skewed the acuity of his memory."
Stein said that Carter "hones in on what he wants to hear and write about. He wants you to conclude that the conflict is Israel's fault and he believes the end justifies the means."
On the destructiveness of Carter's book, Stein said he felt that in the last few years "Israel's history has been hijacked" and he fears that "American Jews are asleep." He added that the most important duty American Jews have today is to "teach our history to our children."
-- Peter L. Rothholz, Contributing Writer
L.A. Maccabi, Milken JCC Honor Longtime Organizer
If the Maccabi Games are the Jewish Olympics, then Dr. Jerry Bobrow is the Los Angeles team captain. For the past 18 years, Bobrow has served as chairman of the Los Angeles JCC Maccabi Organizing Committee, leading thousands of young L.A. Jews in a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Maccabi Team Los Angeles and the New JCC at Milken will honor Bobrow at The Night of Maccabi Champions on Jan. 20 at the Universal Hilton, where more than 400 people will gather to celebrate his commitment and contribution to the games.
"He has involved and engaged thousands of Jewish families and their teenagers and helped them to develop strong Jewish identities," said Michael Jeser, assistant executive director at the JCC at Milken.
Born in Rome to Holocaust survivors, Bobrow moved to California at a young age. He became a track and field star at Fontana High School, a baseball star at Whittier College and pitched semipro baseball for nine seasons. He went on to coach youth and high school baseball for more than 40 years and is now a member of the Southern California Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.
"I've always been a passionate sports fan and athlete, and the Maccabi Games are the perfect connection between sports and the community. I love to get Jewish athletes more involved and help bring them into the Jewish community and the Jewish community centers," said Bobrow, who has been a board member of the Jewish Centers Association since the early 1980s.
The North American Maccabi games began in 1982. Today more than 6,000 Jewish athletes, ages 13-16, participate in the annual summer games. Under Bobrow's leadership, the Los Angeles delegation has grown to more than 200, the maximum number allowed.
For Bobrow, the games are not just an athletic event, but a place for Jewish youth to make friends for life. "They get to know other kids, and they just make this special connection, which I think is tremendously important," said Bobrow, who calls the delegation "Team Los Angeles." "We're bound as a delegation, to get to know each other, to raise social awareness, and to get kids more involved."
-- Carin Davis, Contributing Writer