Jewish Journal

This week in power: Obama, Hot mic, Larry Taylor, Occupy Judaism

by Danny Groner

November 10, 2011 | 4:35 am

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

Obama’s Jewish problem
Despite being labeled as all-but-Jewish by at least one Jewish publication, President Obama should be worrying about the Jewish vote as he gears up for next year’s presidential election. He “faces the danger disillusioned progressives — including many Jews — may opt out of Election 2012,” warned The Jewish Week. Democrats are already doing whatever they can to convey a positive message inside the Jewish community, but Republicans are beginning to seize on opportunity available. “Call Herman Cain the crash-course pro-Israel candidate,” said JTA’s Ron Kampeas.

Sarkozy’s hot mic
During the G20, a hot mic caught world leaders Obama and Nicolas Sarkozy making fun of Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, with Obama caught saying, “You’re sick of him—but I have to deal with him every day!” Big gaffe? “On one level, none of this is surprising. Obama’s irritation with the Jewish state and personal distaste for Netanyahu have been apparent nearly from the start of his presidency. This is just as we would imagine Obama would sound in private,” said Jennifer Rubin at The Washington Post. But some people are worrying a bit more. Michael Bell in The Globe and Mail said: “Constrained as Mr. Netanyahu is by ideology and political imperative, Mr. Sarkozy and Mr. Obama don’t accept the Israeli Prime Minister’s promises of flexibility at the negotiating table.” And that finally came out publicly.

Larry Taylor’s flub
Texas State Rep. Larry Taylor made a faux pas last week at a legislative oversight hearing when he casually used the slur “Jew them down.” He quickly apologized. “It’s difficult to overlook his unfortunate verb choice, particularly in the context, of Texas politics where anti-Jewish sentiments are not exactly new,” said Stephanie Butnick at Tablet. Lisa Falkenberg said in the Houston Chronicle that she feels for Taylor, since she used publicly the same slur accidentally at one point, too. However, “As a society, we should strive for the wisdom, and the tolerance, to tell the difference.” Katie Friel in The Austinist has bigger questions: “Why is this happening? How is this is in the lexicon of our leaders? Do Texas politicians realize how embarrassing it is to the Texans that don’t make comments about Jewish folks and don’t name our ranches after horribly racist, derogatory names? ‘Cause it is.”

“Occupy Judaism”
“Two months into the protests, despite a fledgling, bottom-up Occupy Judaism movement taking hold within Occupy Wall Street and its offshoots around the country,” mainstream organizations have remained silent, reported The Jewish Week. Some commentators don’t approve of the movement either. “Sometimes the politics are worthy, but should not come at the expense of the integrity of the Jewish tradition. More often though, the politics are nefarious, even contrary to the dictates of Jewish law, and, in their disingenuous distortion, offensive to the tradition, said Jonathan Neumann at Commentary.

Rise of anti-Semitism
Blame the economy for the recent rise in anti-Semitism? That’s what a new ADL study insinuates. More Americans believe that Jews control too much of Wall Street, and the money. And recent reports have indicated that at Occupy protests around the country this anti-Semitic sentiment has been cropping up. How should we take this sad news? Margaret Hartmann at Jezebel had an idea: “Good luck fixing the economy guys, but we’re out. If you need us we’ll be wandering through the woods in a distant land, looking for shiny things we can trade for food.”

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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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