A roundup of the most talked about political and global stories in the Jewish world this week:
Moshe Kantor, president of the European Jewish Congress, warned on Wednesday that anti-Semitic violence would escalate if Israel targets Iran. “If Israel attacks Iran, it will be a dramatic increase of anti-Semitic, very violent attacks against Jews,” Kantor said. “And the vehicle for the realization of the attacks will be these enclave communities, where the level of hatred is very high and they are prepared to attack enemies inside their countries.” The topic came front and center during Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s speech at a Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony at Yad Vashem when Netanyahu suggested that Iran must be stopped in this generation. Tension continues to escalate as the world watches.
Israel dismissed “on moral grounds” an officer who was the unwanted star of a YouTube video in which he struck an unarmed Danish activist with his gun, according to reports. The incident took place last weekend near Jericho, and Lieutenant Colonel Shalom Eisner had been suspended immediately afterward for the attack. Despite there being no evidence that the attack was warranted, some on internet message boards defended the soldier’s actions. Israel reaffirmed that its soldiers mostly act with restraint and this was just an exception.
Writer and author Peter Beinart has caused a firestorm with the reception of his new book, The Crisis of Zionism. “Beinart is definitely on the left side of this debate, the side that emphasizes human rights and living in peace with one’s neighbours. He consistently empathizes with the plight of Palestinians in the West Bank who have no citizenship rights,” said Donald Benham in the Winnepeg Free Press. “For liberal Jews such as Beinart, what is happening now is the worst of all possible worlds.” Some praised him for his stance. “Peter Beinart should be commended for a valiant and courageous project, continuing to do what he and many of us have been doing for the past twenty years,” said Shaul Magid at Religion Dispatches. But Jonathan Miller at the Times of Israel disagreed. “Where Beinart has succeeded most thoroughly is in his manipulation of a legitimate crisis — not in Israel, but within our American democracy. It’s a crisis in which nuance and rational debate have been drowned out by polarized, uniformly-lockstep polemics from hyper-partisan politicians, ultra-ideological cable TV screaming heads, and political correctness-enforcing mullahs on our nation’s campuses,” he wrote.
Gibson’s back…or not
Remember that Judah Maccabee movie that Mel Gibson was working on? It might be tabled, indefinitely. This is as a result of a rift between producer Gibson and screenwriter Joe Eszterhas. “Now, given his past history, I see no reason to criticize people who might feel uncomfortable with Mel Gibson’s involvement in a movie about a Jewish war hero. That is most certainly not at issue here. But isn’t this exactly the sort of situation left-wingers scold conservatives for? asked Warner Todd Huston at Chicago Now. “Separating from the entertainment the real-life actions of a moviemaker is exactly what the left claims is a desirable trait in a movie fan. Yet here they are condemning a movie precisely because of who is involved with it.” If they decide to go in a new direction, here are some other Biblical stories that could be adapted for the big screen.
Drake’s Bar Mitzvah
In his video for “HYFR,” Drake “stages a second Bar Mitzvah to re-establish his commitment to the Jewish faith,” as an MTV blogger put it. It even includes real footage for his fans to revel in. “While I am not yet ready to add Drake to my Jewish celebrity role model list, Drake is playing his role in the orchestra. Now it’s up to the rest of us in the Jewish community to do our part,” said Ronn Torossian at the Algemeiner. Others weren’t as thrilled. “The complete video is certainly not consistent with Temple Israel’s longstanding history and reputation as a progressive voice in the Jewish Reform movement,” said the synagogue president who lent his bimah for the fiasco. “Temple Israel does not adopt, condone, or sponsor any aspect of the Drake video, and was not involved in its production.”