Jewish Journal

This week in power: Itamar, Peter King, Alan Gross, Miral

by Danny Groner

March 17, 2011 | 2:41 am

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

Itamar killings
Last weekend, a family of five was stabbed to death in the Israeli settlement of Itamar provoking both anger and sadness around the world. It was the worst terrorist attack in Israel in three years, reported The Jewish Week, and sparked new debate over the controversial settlements. Israel will continue to build in the West Bank, and peace now, for some, seems much less likely. “Can someone reasonably argue that a peace treaty negotiated by some people in suits is going to pacify a culture that throws a party to honor the murder of a three-month-old child?”  said Jay D. Homnick in the American Spectator. This will take a reprogramming of ideas first, said Jeff Jacoby in The Boston Globe. “Human goodness is not hard-wired. It takes sustained effort and healthy values to produce good people; in the absence of those values, cruelty and intolerance are far more likely to flourish.” Others agreed that it starts with the people’s mindsets. “So long as the Palestinians continue to lionize those who murder Jews, atrocities are bound to follow,” said Jonathan S. Tobin at Commentary.

Peter King’s hearings
Some American Jewish civil rights organizations denounced last week’s congressional hearings into American Muslim radicalization, according to The Jewish Daily Forward, but others came out in favor of the proceedings. The Jewish community, too, seemed split on the subject. We “should assure Muslim Americans that we do, indeed, ‘have their back,’” said Nancy Fuchs Kreimer at The Huffington Post. Some worry that the hearings “could deter American Muslims from cooperating with law enforcement—a far more important counterterrorism tool than, y’know, a Congressional panel could ever be,” reported Tablet. But more pressing concerns take precedent, said Rabbi Avi Shafran in the Jewish Ledger. Since Radical Islam is such “a clear and present danger, ” these efforts to thwart terrorism are “not prejudice but prudence.”

Sen. Terri Bonoff vs. public prayer
A Minnesota state senator who is Jewish said she was “highly uncomfortable” with a Baptist pastor’s mentions of Jesus Christ and Christianity in a prayer on the floor of the state Senate this week, reported the Star Tribune. Sen. Terri Bonoff, DFL-Minnetonka, threatens to re-ignite a debate that’s long simmered in the Minnesota Legislature over the content of the invocations that open each Senate and House floor chamber session. Bonoff believes that all prayers in the chamber should be nondenominational. Pastor Dennis Campbell says he meant no harm, but “this is the guy who took out an ad last year in the St. Cloud times fulminating about an Islamic takeover of America, and tried to pass it off as trying to convert Muslims,” said Hart Van Denburg at CityPages. Maybe it’s too much to expect politics and religion to mix, said one blogger. “Instead of basking in unproductive hours or minutes of prayer, we think all legislators ought to try working harder while they are at their workplaces. They are public elected employees who ought to save their recreational praying for their days off.”

Alan Gross’s sentencing
A Cuban court sentenced Alan Gross, a Maryland resident, to 15 years in prison for bringing cell-phone and internet equipment into the country to help Cuban Jews get connected. “It appears the commies running the country into the ground consider the free flow of information, in this case to Jews, a subversive activity that must be crushed whenever found,” said John David Powell at Digital Journal. C’mon, “Let’s call this cynical maneuver what it really is — blackmail,” said a Miami Herald editorial. “Gross is not a criminal of any sort. He’s a chess piece manipulated by the Cuban regime in the relentless war against its own people.” Indeed, said D.A. at The Economist. The Castros may use Gross “as a bargaining chip to gain the release of five Cubans” convicted in the U.S. of espionage.

Miral arrives to protests
On Monday night, as the U.N. hosted the U.S. premiere of director Julian Schnabel’s new film “Miral” about a Palestinian girl in Israel after the 1948 war, protests from Israel’s delegation and other high-profile groups overshadowed the screening, reported the Los Angeles Times. The movie has a “clear political message, which portrays Israel in a highly negative light.” the AJC said in a statement. You can’t help but be moved by the film, said E. Nina Rothe at The Huffington Post. “It is impossible to walk away from the story of Miral without taking a clear stand on the Palestinian struggle.” Maybe there’s a lesson there for Jews, said Danielle Berrin in the Jewish Journal. “If, as American Jews, we can’t even watch a movie in peace, I fear what that means for the peace prospects” between the two side. Yet this could all be much ado about nothing since the movie might not even be worth seeing, said David Lev at IsraelNationalNews.com. It’s been “very poorly reviewed” thus far. What’s the message there?

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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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