Jewish Journal

This week in power: Netanyahu’s visit, DSK, Von Trier, Bear Jew

by Danny Groner

May 26, 2011 | 5:44 am

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

Netanyahu vs. Obama
The prime minister’s U.S. visit was highlighted by an ongoing tension between him and President Obama as they repeatedly squared off on the ever-contentious subject of Middle East peace. “t was Netanyahu, not Obama, who electrified Washington,” said John Podhoretz in the New York Post. Maybe that’s true, said Robert Dreyfuss at The Nation, but “Netanyahu didn’t help his case by displaying a stunning set of bad manners. He was rude, boorish and recklessly arrogant.” Netanyahu left in good favor with his supporters for refusing to back down, while at the same time Obama showed he’d like to get the “peace process moving again,” said The Jewish Week’s James Besser. “But actually, it seems to me, everybody emerged as a loser.”

DSK and the Jewish factor
As the former director of the IMF has faced tremendous scrutiny in the wake of his arrest earlier this month, “there is one response that we have not seen: anti-Semitism,” reported The Jewish Daily Forward. Why’s it matter so much? Well, a majority of French citizens believe that Strauss-Kahn was brought down by a plot because he “was well on track not just to become France’s president but its first Jewish president,” said Patricia J. Williams at The Nation. That this religious angle hasn’t been played up more is to the great relief of Jews around the world. “We are connected by a mysterious bond called peoplehood, a psychic sense that we are part of an extended family with deep historical roots and a moral and spiritual vision,” said Erica Brown in the Jewish Journal. Even before this scandal arose, Strauss-Kahn’s Jewishness mattered. “Reporters and editors were talking about his very good chances to defeat President Nicolas Sarkozy in next year’s presidential election, when he said there were three hurdles in his way: women, money and Jewishness.,” said Richard Reeves at Truthdig.

San Francisco’s circumcision ban
“It wouldn’t be a San Francisco election without at least one wacky measure on the ballot. For this November, the threshold has already been met: Voters will be asked to ban male circumcision,” said a San Francisco Chronicle editorial. The measure has obviously upset Jews in the area. The American Jewish Committee has called it a “direct assault on Jewish religious practice in the United States…unprecedented in American Jewish life.’’ “Talk about blatant violations of the First Amendment,” said a Jewish Week editorial. Yet, some are calling it an inhumane practice that should be outlawed. “I’m flatly anti-circumcision — boys or girls,” said Lissa Rankin at Care2. “I don’t believe we should be imposing our own plastic surgery notions on young boys without their consent.” Now, opponents are rallying Californians to stop the bill from passing. “When San Franciscans vote this fall, the disgraceful anti-circumcision initiative deserves a decisive defeat,” said Jeff Jacoby in The Boston Globe.

Von Trier’s apology
Danish director Lars von Trier joked during the Cannes Film Festival about being a Nazi and understanding Hitler, which got him expelled from the festival. On Tuesday, he issued an apology saying he was “unintelligent, ambiguous and needlessly hurtful.” But some are slow to forgive the director. “It is often assumed that comments like those made by Von Trier are perfectly normal among many European intellectuals. Anti-Semitism, we are told, has made a strong comeback among them,” said Eric Herschthal at The Jewish Week. But let’s cut him some slack here - we don’t really believe he’s anti-Semitic, said Danielle Berrin in the Jewish Journal. “But unlike his anti-Semitic-spewing brethren, von Trier’s prattle was not hostile; he used no slang nor slurs, nor threatening language.” Yeah, let’s move on and forgive Von Trier for saying he understands Nazis, said Judy Berman at Flavorwire, “because he’s spent nearly a week proving to us that he isn’t and he doesn’t.”

The “Bear Jew”
Chicago Bears rookie tackle Gabe Carimi has locals excited about potentially “the best Jewish Bears player since quarterback Sid Luckman,” reported the Chicago Tribune. “My Judaism is important to me — I make it work. I fasted on Israeli time, so I could begin my fast earlier, from noon to noon the next day. That way, I was able to be true to my religion and play the best for my team,” Carimi told The Jewish Daily Forward. People are impressed by the man’s ability to balance religion and football. “We as Jews should celebrate this first round draft pick. Not just Bears fans, but Jews everywhere,” said Jeremy Fine at Jewish World News. “I respect a man who stands for something,” said Boomer at BeerGogglesOn.com. “While it’s true that Yom Kippur doesn’t fall on a Sunday for the next 5 seasons, let’s hope that Carimi is still a relevant cog in the Bears puzzle beyond that.”

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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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