A roundup of the most talked about political and global stories in the Jewish world this week:
Everyone was paying attention to Iowa on Tuesday as the Republican candidates vied for votes, resulting in a close contest that left three strong contenders: Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and, Ron Paul. It became even clearer that foreign policy - particularly that related to Iran - will play a major role in the election season. “Iran is about to have nuclear weaponry just down the road,” Romney said. “Iran is important, but one should still wonder: China, Russia, Korea, Europe, the Arab Spring – aren’t they all important enough to be worthy of some discussion?” asked Shmuel Rosner at the Jewish Journal. Jewish voters might tip the scales for one of the candidates, said Mik Moore at Shma, but they should tread carefully. “When the media covers the Jewish vote, it will likely focus on the candidates’ support for Israel. After all, why should this year be any different? But the fight for Jewish swing voters, volunteers, and donations will almost certainly be won or lost elsewhere.” Heading toward New Hampshire, the Jewish vote remains a concern.
How’d Netanyahu do?
“Bibi Netanyahu had a very good year,” said Douglas Bloomfield in The Jewish Week. “He may have dissed the President of the United States with a rude lecture on live television but that didn’t stop Barack Obama from leading the campaign to block the Palestinian bid for U.N. membership, raising the level of security cooperation to new highs and approving the transfer of weapons system denied by the Bush administration. As a bonus, Netanyahu got standing ovations at a joint session of Congress that insulated him from pressure to be more flexible in the peace process; he returned home stronger than ever – and less interested in fulfilling his end of the U.S.-Israeli partnership.” But that’s not the complete story, said Aaron David Miller in the Los Angeles Times. “Unless Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu find a way to cooperate on a big venture that makes both of them look good, and in a way that allows each to invest in the other, the U.S.-Israel relationship may be in for a bumpy ride.” Stay tuned.
Beit Shemesh furor goes on
The conflict goes on in the Israeli city between ultra-Orthodox and modern Jews over modesty. And the commentary continues to pour out. “Rape is not about sex, it’s about violence. So too Orthodox Jewish men attacking young Orthodox Jewish girls in Beit Shemesh, Israel this past week for wearing short sleeves was not about modesty (the perpetrated acts of violence were of course anything but modest), but about power,” said Rabbi Hyim Shafner in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “Clearly, the haredim see themselves as the victims here,” said a Jewish Week editorial. “But while it is true that the number of ultra-Orthodox militants is small, the deeper concern is the passive behavior toward them by fellow haredim and the relative silence of the leaders of their communities.” Either way, this needs to end soon, said Richard N. Weltz at American Thinker: “This has got to be nipped in the bud, and decisively so, for the sake of all the rest of us Jews.”
As the debate has heated up in Beit Shemesh, so have the methods, according to reports. Ultra-Orthodox protesters reportedly gave young boys yellow stars and striped prison camp uniforms to wear, an evident comparison to the Holocaust. Some people were arrested for a similar stunt. This “constitutes a new low point,” said Ronn Torossian at the Algemeiner. “People in Israel misuse the Holocaust in politics and other areas all the time,” said someone quoted by the Daily Beast. ‘It’s used mainly by the right wing but also by the left and center’ to vilify political adversaries.”
Fox’s Jesus poll
The Latin American division of Fox issued an apology for a controversial poll last week that included a suggestion that Jews killed Jesus. It asked people, “Who do you think is responsible for the death of Christ?” and gave three choices: Jewish People, Pontius Pilate and High Priests. “There really isn’t much else to say, except what else can we expect from Fox News? This is the norm for this network, whether it’s done here in the U.S. or overseas,” said Claudio E. Cabrera at The Root. “There was no word on the results of the poll,” added Nando Di Fino at Mediaite.
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