A roundup of the most talked about political and global stories in the Jewish world this week:
Eying the election
With Rep. Barney Frank, a popular Jewish politician for the past 30 days, announcing he intends to step down, the focus again turns to next year’s elections. “Democrats on Capitol Hill constitute an effective barometer of Obama’s electoral fortunes. They are increasingly reluctant to support his initiatives, as they are apprehensive about a possible second round of their 2010 midterm devastation,” said Yoam Ettinger in a syndicated column. While Israel remains a critical issue for many American Jews, many believe that there’s an element of hype out there about how bad the current president has made things. “Fundamentalist cults, and particularly the most conservative Jewish rabbis, are very busy falsely trying to convince their followers that President Obama is an enemy of Israel. His greatest ‘transgression’ is that he advocates a Palestinian state and peace between Jews and Arabs,” said Elazar Hiller in the Florida’s Sun-Sentinel. Florida will remain a battleground state all the way through, and Vice President Joe Biden is making his campaign rounds there.
Israel is trying to solidify its peace treaty with Egypt now that the Egyptian election this week could bring an Islamic regime to power that could pose a threat to the Jewish state, according to reports. “We are witnessing an Islamist wave washing over the Arab world after decades of stable military rule,” Binyamin Netanyahu said. “We are facing uncertain times. One cannot estimate how long it will take until things stabilise. We must act responsibly and carefully. This is not the time for rash actions.” And this unrest is sparking new disputes at the Temple Mount. “If there is to be any hope for peace between Israel and its neighbors it will have to wait until there is a sea change in the political culture of a Muslim world still stuck in their irrational hatred for the Jews,” said Jonathan S. Tobin in Commentary. How great a fear is there?
A controversial stripsearch
Israel apologized on Monday after officials had reportedly forced Lynsey Addario, a Pulitzer-winning New York Times war photographer, to take off her clothes at a checkpoint last month. Addario, who is pregnant, claimed she was treated with “blatant cruelty” after refusing to be exposed to the radiation from the X-ray machine. “The truth is there’s simply nothing to excuse, justify, or even really explain why these guards decided to force Addario back through the machine twice, and then three times,” said Allison Hoffman at Tablet. “This, from a country that treats women’s fertility and prenatal health as a paramount public policy issue.” Joe Klein at TIME agreed: “This is completely outrageous, of course. It is another indication that Israel has been brutalized by its occupation of Arab territories since 1967. For those of us who feel strongly about the need for Israel to exist–especially those of us who love the place, warts and all–this incident is yet another reason to fear for Israel’s future,” he said.
“I am not thankful for cruelty. Not thankful for the small pettiness embroidered in our characters. I am not grateful, Dear God, for the hunger and hurt that plague us,” said Rabbi David Wolpe in The Washington Post. He’s not the only one reflecting on the meaning of the holiday season. “It’s true that Judaism provides ample opportunities outside of this non-Jewish holiday to recognize our spiritual and familial selves. It has often been noted that the Jewish festival of Sukkot has several elements in common with the multifaith holiday of Thanksgivin,” said a St. Louis Jewish Light editorial. “But this particular holiday, this one time of the year, allows us to rejoice in commonality with others, to find the best of ourselves as Jews, as Americans, and as part of the greater human condition in a way that melds faith with those we hold most precious.” But not everyone was so quick to embrace Turkey Day. “I am so grateful to live in a Jewish country. I don’t have to be concerned about accusations of dual loyalty because I have none. My loyalty is singular,” said Rivkah Lambert Adler in the Jerusalem Post. You can take your mind off wondering if Twilight is actually a Jewish story...
Kobe trains at the JCC?
It was a big week for Jewish basketball fans - first, rumors that Amar’e Stoudemire is considering opening a Hebrew school. Then, we got word that Kobe Bryant, trying to get into shape for the upcoming NBA season, was seen training at the Southern California JCC. “I suppose Bryant wanted to sharpen his skills and get a head start,” said Ashley Baylen at Shalom Life. What’s next: LeBron James in Tefillin?