Jewish Journal

This week in power: GOP race, Beck rally, Russell Crowe, Yale

by Danny Groner

June 16, 2011 | 5:57 am

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

Israel and the GOP race
“Israel was absent as a topic during the first Republican presidential debate in New Hampshire” on Monday night, reported JTA. The absence of Israel from the conversation may have surprised some, especially because Newt Gingrich spoke to the Republican Jewish Coalition on Sunday night about foreign policy, specifically about Israel. Texas Gov. Rick Perry came under fire this week for a proposal for a Day of Prayer this summer that appeared at least to be Christian-themed, though Perry says all are invited to participate. Why anyone would want to run for president is beyond me, said Douglas Bloomfield at the Jewish Journal. “Prerequisites for running for president: a huge ego wrapped in a layer of thick skin.”

Rumored Beck Israel rally participants
On Wednesday, YNet reported that Glenn Beck’s rally in Jerusalem on August 24 will feature big-name guests such as Sarah Palin, Joe Lieberman, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, and Michelle Bachman. “Beck’s big D.C. rally ended up being a fairly forgettable pep rally for faith; this might be more interesting,” said Slate’s Dave Weigel. What should we expect? “The rally in Israel will likely be even less political and more faith-oriented. Foreign policy is not the focus,” said Rachel Weiner at The Washington Post. However, the list of speakers may have been released in haste. The report “was quickly debunked, as several of the 2012 candidates and GOP counterparts released statements denying they would be there, and the Beck camp denying they were ever asked,” reported Yahoo! News.

Russell Crowe’s controversial tweets
Late last week, the actor took to Twitter to express support for a San Francisco proposal to ban circumcision. “Circumcision is barbaric and stupid. Who are you to correct nature? Is it real that GOD requires a donation of foreskin? Babies are perfect,” Crowe said. Eventually, Crowe apologized and clarified his position on the issue. Crowe’s friend and fellow actor, Eli Roth, came to his defense, claiming the entire rant was just a joke at the expense of the media. But the whole thing rubbed some people the wrong way. “Crowe flaunts breathtaking asininity,” said Chuck Roger at American Thinker. “Dear Mr. Crowe, clear thinking and sound morals are always good choices.” Next time think before you tweet.

Yale closes YIISA
Yale University closed the Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism, the nation’s only academically “anti-Semitism research shop,” according to the New York Post. “If Yale doesn’t want it, Washington should grab the institute before it goes anywhere else,” said Walter Reich in The Washington Post. It will take a different approach to keep this program alive, said Caroline B. Glick in The Jerusalem Post. “Yale’s decision to close YIISA indicates that the piecemeal approach is not effective. One institute cannot impact the virulent faculty hostility to Jewish related issues on campuses like Yale.” Yes, this was a mistake, but it’s not too late to turn back now, said Alan Dershowitz at Hudson New York. “Even better, it should reconsider its decision, solicit input from outsiders who have participated in the program and figure out a constructive way of keeping the important work of the initiative going.”

David Mamet vs. British antisemitism
In an interview with the Financial Times, the renowned playwright discussed the “ineradicable taint of antisemitism” in British society. “Mamet’s second act has just begun. We’ll have to see how the drama plays out to the end,” said Renee Ghert-Zand at the Jewish Daily Forward. But Mamet’s claims are too “simplistic,” said one blogger. “Anti-Semitism has certainly been a key part of the literary tradition in Britain and elsewhere for many centuries.” However, that is a separate issues from what’s happening in the Middle East; Mamet wants you to believe they’re tied together. In truth, “Anti-Semitism remains a major part of the world today, and it is damaging and degrading. But it does not remotely explain what is happening in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

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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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