A roundup of the most talked about political and global stories in the Jewish world this week:
Impact of debt ceiling talks
As the Aug. 2 deadline creeps closer, and the Obama administration and Congress grapple with compromising on a proposal, they are once again floating a potential limit to the tax deduction for charitable donations, which has “alarmed several Jewish nonprofit groups,” according to The Jewish Week. Meanwhile, some Jewish senators are urging American Jews to make their voices heard as the budget gets decided on and settled. The Republican party effort is headed up by House Majority leader Eric Cantor, who is Jewish, and, as Rabbi Shmuley Boteach said in the Jewish Journal, has the Jewish people’s support. “President Obama can storm out of all the meetings he wants with Cantor. But he cannot break the man because Cantor is backed by people who are already broken and who have had enough.”
Argentine inquiry into Jewish center bombing
Last weekend, the Argentinian government described a “very positive” offer from Iran to cooperate with an inquiry into a 1994 bombing of a Jewish center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people, according to reports. It hasn’t happened to this point “due in large part to Iran’s threatening influence over international politics,” said Martin Krossel at FrumForum. Iran has asked Argentina to drop the investigation, but “we hope Iran’s Argentina gambit will fail,” and that Argentina will hold strong or else “there will be consequences in terms of their relationship with the United States,” said Jonathan S. Tobin at Commentary. “It is vital that authorities investigate, reveal the truth, and ensure that these governments are held accountable for any violations of international sanctions and applicable U.S. laws,” added Roger Noriega at The American.
The furor over fracking
Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking for short, is a hot-button issue everywhere. The process involves injecting chemical-laced water into the ground to allow natural gas to escape to push out the minerals. The EPA has expressed concerns about how the process impacts water, soil, and air quality, according to reports. Now, four Jewish summer camps have agreed to allow gas exploration companies to employ the technique at their campgrounds by this fall. “This may bring new meaning to the term ‘bug juice’ at summer camp,” joked Stephen Lacey at Think Progress. But not everyone approves. Said blogger dcc at JewSchool: “Fracking is dangers now and should not be utilized as an energy extraction method within watersheds of summer camps. Period.”
Is Israel spying in New Zealand?
There are claims in New Zealand that some Israeli backpackers caught in February’s massive earthquake may have been spies, reported JTA. Israel’s ambassador to the country called the allegations “science fiction,” and criticized fears that Israelis may have hacked into the national computer network. Suspicions reportedly arose around the five passports found on the body of one of the deceased, Ofer Mizrahi, and “security services also took note that a Facebook page set up in remembrance of Mizrahi has only five ‘likes,’” said Haaretz. Of course, this isn’t the first time New Zealand has raised suspicions.
JDub Records closes
A reliable source for Jewish music is no more, as JDub Records folded late last week. Many are eulogizing the fallen company. “A society without a vibrant and respected creative class lacks the imagination and inspiration to innovate and grow,” say Stephen Hazan Arnoff and Steven M. Cohen at JTA. But some don’t buy it. “The turn against these outfits by their funders should be welcomed as a potential indication of growing seriousness in American Jewish priorities,” argued Matthew Ackerman at Commentary. “This is absurb,” countered Eric Herschthal at The Jewish Week. “What Ackerman doesn’t get is that the young Jews who identified with JDub saw only conformity and corportaism in mainstream Jewish organizations, and they craved new creative outlets. JDub seemed to capture that clientele wonderfully.”
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