A roundup of the most talked about political and global stories in the Jewish world this week:
Romney vs. Obama
“Once again, Republicans are doing much better with Jewish contributors than with Jewish voters,” said Douglas Bloomfield in The New York Jewish Week. And Democrats are trying to figure out how to match their counterparts. Israel, as always, remains an important issue when it comes to courting the Jewish vote. “The president’s cynical Jewish charm offensive isn’t likely to win back many disenchanted voters who know the difference between conviction and an election-year conversion,” said Jonathan S. Tobin in Commentary. But others, like Rafael Medoff in the Baltimore Sun, are more secure in their support for Obama. “The president says he has Israel’s back,” and we should accept that as reality.”
The “60 Minutes” furor
On last week’s episode of “60 Minutes,” reporter Bob Simon had a confrontation with Michael Oren that left Oren contacting CBS to try to explain why the piece would hurt Israel. It centered on Arab Christians and their exit as a result of the Israeli occupation. “If CBS eventually issues an apology, or does a follow-up to the report, we can assume that (willful?) ignorance was to blame. (Funny how the mistakes, inaccuracies and bias all lead in the same, anti-Israel direction, isn’t it?) But to the extent CBS digs in after receiving a mountain of material debunking the piece, we will know that rank bias is at the heart of this,” said Jennifer Rubin in The Washington Post. It didn’t stop there. Simon “never develops for the listener/viewer the reality, in all its proportions and complexity,” said Yisrael Medad in The Jerusalem Post. “He ‘smoothes over’ all the politics, the history - flattening that out so the viewer is putty in his hands.”
West Virginia Senate candidate John Raese ran into some trouble with Jewish groups when he equated a smoking ban with Hitler’s policy of forcing Jews to wear the Star of David. Rases said, “But in Monongalia County now, I have to put a huge sticker on my buildings to say this is a smoke-free environment. This is brought to you by the government of Monongalia County. Okay?” He continued: “Remember Hitler used to put Star of David on everybody’s lapel, remember that? Same thing.” Let’s not go overboard, said a Huntington News editorial. “In reading the press accounts, we don’t see any intentional meanspiritedness here by Raese—just a politician trying too hard to make his point. We’ve seen that before by political leaders in both parties here over the years. Raese certainly isn’t alone in having an occasional case of foot-in-mouth disease.” No, this is a big deal, argued Leonard Pitts Jr. in the Miami Herald. “The crimes of the Nazi regime were singular, unprecedented in their sheer awfulness. Because of this, thoughtful observers draw Nazi parallels carefully and rarely if at all. And then there are the John Raeses of the world.”
What’s Israel mean at 64?
Israel celebrated its birthday this week. Where are we now? “Israel deserves applause for 64 years of its status as a stable, prosperous, multicultural state in a region where citizens still fight for their most basic human rights — even as critical threats to its sovereignty endure and its ‘partner in peace’ maintains an untrustworthy and anti-Jewish foundation,” said an Algemeiner editorial. “Israel is a military, economic, scientific and technological power to be reckoned with. But it faces an existential threat from Iran” that should scare us, said a New York Jewish Week editorial. “Even as we rejoice in Israel’s many achievements, and defend her against its political and military enemies, we must be aware that geula — redemption — can only come when Israel will achieve peace with her neighbors,” added Phil Horn in the New Jersey Jewish News.
Urban Outfitters shirt
The clothing chain pulled a T-shirt from its shelves amid a ruckus that its design too heavily resembled a yellow star. “Some fashion statements should not be made,” said The Examiner. It’s not the first time the retailer has come under fire for its designs. “Although Urban Outfitters makes us feel like we’re rebelling against some oppressive ‘man’ or system, the truth is that they have made a killing on mass producing a blend of trendy unconventionality,” said Ori J. Lenkinski at 972Mag.com. “While we buy their overpriced clothes to feel special, thousands of other special folks are picking out the exact same hip uniform, making it just as banal as a pair of khakis and a white t-shirt. And the kicker here is that the yellow tee that has ruffled so many feathers costs $100.”