Jewish Journal

This week in power: Israel, Obama, Libyan synagogue, Banning circumcision bans

by Danny Groner

October 6, 2011 | 6:21 am

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

Israel’s future
The recent U.N. summit has people furiously debating the future of the state of Israel. “Abbas unwaveringly insists on the so-called right of return,which would demographically destroy Israel by swamping it with millions of Arabs, thereby turning the world’s only Jewish state into the world’s 23rd Arab state,” The Washington Post’s Charles Krauthammer wrote. And, along those lines, Gerald Caplan said in The Globe and Mail, “It is ludicrous to demand negotiations with the Netanyahu government, which will never ever agree to a viable Palestinian state.” So where will this all leave us?

Obama hanging on
“Are American Jews finally moving into the Republican column? Not likely,” said J.J. Goldberg in The Jewish Daily Forward. He should recover. Still, there’s room for improvement, said Rebecca Sive at The Huffington Post. “If I were in his war room, I’d say: Mr. President: It’s time to be a leading advocate for access to abortion, lest those Jewish women dismayed by your policies on the economy and Israel decide they might as well vote for your Republican opponent.”  And Gov. Rick Perry is doing everything he can to court the Jewish vote. “Perry recently signed a law overriding restrictions on the dimensions of mezuzas and allowing the ritual symbol to reach a truly Texas size of 25 inches. A quick entrepreneur already began marketing a huge ‘Rick Perry Mezuzah’ honoring the governor for taking on the issue,” reported the San Francisco Sentinel.

Libya’s fighting Jew
David Gerbi, who left Libya for Italy, returned home to try to clean up his local synagogue. He arrived wielding a sledgehammer, but was soon told to leave. “If they want to prove that it’s different from Gadhafi ... they need to do the opposite,” he told reporters. “It remains to be seen just how free a new Libya will be and if religious freedom for Jews will become reality. For now, Gerbi, in his 50s, may have to come to the realization that his project may revert back to a dream,” said Yeshiva World News.

Banning circumcision bans
California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill on Sunday that prevents local governments from banning the circumcisions, months after a failed measure to get a ban onto the ballot. “The long-term value of the new legislation, if there will be any, lies in its ability to lessen the anxiety felt by people who support the right of parents to choose to circumcise their sons—freeing them to engage those with legitimate questions and expose those who are simply motivated by rage,” said Brad Hirschfield at The Washington Post.

“Without religion”
An Israeli court gave author Yoram Kaniuk permission to be classed as “without religion,” despite being technically Jewish. “Israel must free itself of the grasp of the priests and paper-pushers of religion. The Kaniuk precedent is an important step in the direction of this objective,” said a Haaretz editorial. we must avoid such a distinction because of the alienation and revulsion that those who have appointed themselves as representatives of Judaism engender in us, and because of the financial blackmail and the religious coercion they exert on us,” said Neri Livneh also in Haaretz.

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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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