Jewish Journal

This week in power: Barak comments, Argentina probe, Birth control revelation, Blood libel cartoon

by Danny Groner

January 31, 2013 | 2:59 am

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

Barak interview
Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak said in an interview last week that the Pentagon "had prepared sophisticated blueprints for a surgical operation to set back Iran’s nuclear program should the United States decide to attack — a statement that was a possible indication that Israel might have shelved any plans for a unilateral strike, at least for now," reported The New York Times. In addition, he said that the killins in Syria should be a warning to everyone else that you can't turn to any of your neighbors or friends for support and a country must care about its own future first. “We of course prefer that some morning we wake up and see that the Arab Spring was translated into Farsi and jumped over the Gulf to the streets of Tehran,” he said. “But you cannot build a plan on it.”

Crying about Argentina
Israel is objecting to a joint investigation between Iran and Argentina over the 1994 bombing of a Jewish center that killed 85 people in Buenos Aires. Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon compared it to “inviting a murderer to investigate the killings he committed.” Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, on the other hand, called the agreement "historic", saying it guaranteed "the right to due process of law, a fundamental principle of international criminal law."

Immigrant outrage
Israel admitted this week that it has secretly been giving Ethiopian Jewish immigrants birth-control injections, according to reports. It cxame after an investigation revealed more than 30 women from Ethiopia who came forward. The drug in question is thought to be Depo-Provera. "One imagines that if it were well-heeled immigrants from America as opposed to poor Africans from Ethiopia at the center of the scandal then getting to the bottom of it would be something of a state priority," said Nathan Jeffay at The Jewish Daily Forward. "This case should be sparking concerns about other areas in policy and society where racism is allowed to pass unchecked," said S.E. Smith at Care2.

Objectionable cartoon
On Holocaust Memorial Day last week, the Sunday Times ran a cartoon that upset many people for "not simply treading the fine line between criticism and blood libel, but indeed spitting all over it, leaving it for dust, and careering head first into anti-Semitismsville," according to Raheem Kassam at The Commentator. After the controversy arose, Rupert Murdoch, whose News Corp. owns the publication, apologized for what he called a "grotesque" cartoon of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The Sunday Times said it was "a criticism of Netanyahu, and not of the Jewish people: there was no slight whatsoever intended against them."

Off 'The Voice'
"We like to encourage young people to develop their natural talents and follow their dreams," said Renee Ghert-Zand at The Jewish Daily Forward. "But that’s not necessarily how things work in some sectors of Israeli society." This week, Israeli "The Voice" contestant Ophir Ben-Shetreet, 17, has been punished for or showing off her voice on the international singing competition. Her community and school argue that Ophir shouldn't be singing in public at all and that it's immodest and in violation of Jewish law. "I wish her success, not because I think she is doing the right thing or that she hasnt compromised on something a religious girl should not compromise on, but because we are given free will and free choice," said one blogger. "I always wish everyone well when they choose to do something knowing the consequences, even if from a religious perspective it looks to me like they are making the wrong choice."

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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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