Jewish Journal

This week in power: Palestinian statehood, Obama’s seder, Pollard, Burqas

by Danny Groner

April 21, 2011 | 6:59 am

A roundup of the most talked about political and global stories in the Jewish world this week:

Is Palestinian statehood possible?
Pressure is mounting from prominent Israelis in support of a Palestinian plan to seek United Nations support for statehood, according to reports. They hope to seek the U.N.‘s endorsement in September for an independent Palestinian state, which prompted Hillary Clinton to propose a resuming of peace talks. Granting statehood “damages the sanctity of international legal foundations that give Israel the confidence to take risks for peace” and “also promises to radicalize Palestinian politics,” said Meyrav Wurmser in The Jewish Daily Forward.“Palestinian leaders cannot possibly believe such action will create the state they say is their top goal,” said a Jewish Week editorial. This is just an effort “to ratchet up the pressure on Israel.”

Obama’s Passover message
President Obama hosted his third consecutive seder at the White House, an event that was met with controversy after Glenn Beck and others took issue with Obama’s message that this year’s Mideast revolts echo those of the Biblical exodus from Egypt. “Well, way to go, President Obama. Or should I say ‘Pharaoh Obama?’” joked Jon Bershad at Mediaite. While I think Beck “is reading too much into the message Obama released,” said one blogger, “how can i criticize him when he is speaking up for Israel??!!”

Free Jonathan Pollard?
A top Israeli rabbi called on Barack Obama to free Jonathan Pollard if he wants Jews to back him in his re-election bid, reported the AFP. Others, including President Shimon Peres and Pollard’s wife, Esther, have asked Obama to let Pollard go in the spirit of the Passover holiday. Well, “the rabbi is wrong,” said Martin Peretz at The New Republic. “If five percent of American Jews vote against the president in 2012 because he fails to free Pollard, that would be a lot. Anyway, most of them (maybe all of them) already voted against Obama in 2008.” This isn’t really an issue that American Jews will vote on.

Burqa ban
Last week, France made its controversial burqa ban a full-fledged law in the country. “I’m not entirely sure that the ban is the way to go, and it’s looking like the ban is doomed to failure, buttressing Islamic fundamentalism, and placing Muslim women in some very difficult predicaments,” said Elana Maryles Sztokman at The Jewish Daily Forward. Years ago, the country banned all religious clothing in public schools, including Jewish skullcaps, “The law is rooted in the long-standing French policy of cultural integration and the pursuit of a uniform French identity,” pointed out Bonita Meyersfeld in the Mail and Guardian. Yet, some believe it was necessary: “France is brave and right to ban the burqa. There is no reason for a modern Western country to honor what is, essentially, a political statement and an ethnic and misogynistic custom,” said Phyllis Chesler at Fox News.

Get the Yid out
The Kick It Out organization wants to put a stop to the use of the offensive term “Yid” that some soccer fans have chanted at Tottenham Hotspur games. Players, appearing in a viral video, are joining the campaign against casual use of the slur. “I never really give a moment`s thought to this being anything racist or offensive coming from a Tottenham fans mouth, but the fact I have always sung the song with pride and affection, perhaps doesn`t make it right, wondered OxfordSpur at VitalFootball, “or are we again going too far in the political correctness bandwagon?” This “practice is unutterably vile and should be stamped on without delay,” said Natalie Wood at Technorati. Still, the term has been used this way for years without protest so “I must argue, if ‘the Yids’ themselves are not offended by the term, why should anyone else?”

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Danny Groner is a contributing writer to the Jewish Journal. He has worked in journalism since he was a teenager, starting off as an intern for a local publication. During his...

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