A roundup of the most talked about political and global stories in the Jewish world this week:
Is Netanyahu serious?
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad challenged Benjamin Netanyahu's threats that Israel would strike Iran. "While we are fully ready to defend ourselves, we do not take these threats seriously," Ahmadinejad said. Later in the week, Netanyahu left an "unusual letter" to the Israeli public reaffirming his stand. "Benjamin Netanyahu is clever but not wise. No Israeli prime minister should publicly challenge an American president. But for decades of American economic and military aid plus countless vetoes in the Security Council, Israel could not have got away with its illegal and brutal occupation of Palestinian lands for as long as it has, 45 years and counting," said Haroon Siddiqui in the Toronto Star. Others support Netanyahu's methods. "Most of all, Israel can preserve its relationship with the United States and with American Jews in particular by defending the shared values described by the prime minister," said JTA's Daniel Sokatch.
The Israeli-Palestinian peace prospects have some centrist Jewish groups wondering about Romney, according to reports. “To let it fester is not in the best interests of Israel,” said Abraham Foxman of the ADL. There's still time for Romney to turn things around, with the debates on the horizon. "Maybe the debates really will educate Americans about the great issues of the day and provide clear contrasts that enable thoughtful, open-minded voters to make up their minds. Or maybe Romney’s free fall will have acquired so much velocity that even the media’s best efforts to keep audiences in suspense about the outcome will prove hopeless," said Marty Kaplan in the Jewish Journal. But some have had enough: "Both parties need to spend all that time raising money so they can pay for all those annoying ads. Obama once again is bringing in smaller donations from larger numbers of contributors, while Romney is relying on very rich contributors to write very big checks," said Douglas Bloomfield in The Jewish Week.
Where Florida rests
A recent poll revealed that 70 percent of registered Jewish voters plan to vote for Obama. That's up from 64 percent in other polls. Florida is a key battleground state where Obama is dedicated time last week. "Romney didn’t make that attack because he thinks Barack Obama is threatening Israel. He made it because he thinks Barack Obama is threatening Florida. "Florida has a Jewish population of about 640,000, or approximately 3.4 per cent of the electorate. But when you consider George Bush won the state by 537 votes in 2000, and Obama by 2.8 percent, it’s enough. Obviously, there are other states that have larger Jewish populations, such as New Jersey, New York and California. But they’re not in play electorally," said Dan Hodges in The Telegraph. Is it too late to make up that ground?
Remember Sarah Silverman's 2008 ad, the “Great Schlep”? Now the comedian has returned with another video that has brought in over a million views in under a week. It's more raunchy and laced with a specific message -- making sure voters have the proper identification to vote. "Using humor to tackle politics, the Let My People Vote project tries to direct attention to a topic that most people don't understand. It's an example of advocacy groups trying to use social media in new ways to cut through the clutter of the media landscape," said Sree Sreenivasan at CNET. "This video is NOT safe for work or pretty much anywhere except the company of friends and select family. It's definitely worth a look though!" said a Hollywire blogger.
Yom Kippur messages
Another Yom Kippur in the books. What's the message we should take home? And is anything off-limits? "There are many appropriate days, and many appropriate places, for Jews to discuss all the terrible things for which Mahmoud Ahmadinejad need atone. In shul this week on Yom Kippur, however, I'd rather focus on the atoning I need to do myself," said Peter Beinart in The Daily Beast. Others felt differently. "That Beinart wishes to treat it as being morally equivalent to a liberal appeal for more social welfare spending or conservative calls for support for their issues tells us more about him and his very public angst about Israel and Jewish peoplehood than it does about what is or is not an appropriate prayer on Yom Kippur," said Jonathan S. Tobin at Commentary. There's of course a middle road, with a more universal and less political approach. "We are reminded that today is what we have; tomorrow may or may not come. Over and over, we ask ourselves, are we really being the best we can be," said Rabbi Shafir Lobb at TC Palm.