Jewish Journal

This week in power: Netanyahu snub and Kanye comments

by Danny Groner

December 11, 2013 | 7:58 pm

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

Mandela funeral fracas
World leaders gathered for the funeral for Nelson Mandela on Tuesday, but one person was missing: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He cited costs of attending as the reason he didn't make it. Still, the decision caused a bit of a stir. "Detractors argue that missing the memorial of a man who championed freedom and brought down apartheid gives fresh fodder to critics who say Israel, too, has constructed an apartheid system and is insincere about reconciling with Palestinians after decades of conflict," reported The Christian Science Monitor. Others sounded off with their theories, too.

"Relations between Israel and South Africa have been fractious for a long time, with a notable deterioration in recent months," said Noga Tarnopolsky at Global Post. "Israel was one of a few countries —in addition to the United States — that in the 1970s and 1980s sold weapons to the apartheid regime in South Africa, for which many South Africans have never forgiven Israel." And it made for a PR nightmare, added The Jewish Daily Forward editors. "Israel should have taken its place on that world stage, even if it cost a lot, even if it made others uncomfortable, even if it meant brushing up against political enemies. Mandela knew how to turn those enemies into partners for change. Netanyahu could learn a lot from that example."

Kanye sounds off
Some comments Kanye West made during a radio interview has the rapper in hot water with some Jewish groups. West said, “People want to say Obama can’t make these moves or he’s not executing. That’s because he ain’t got those connections. Black people don’t have the same level of connections as Jewish people. Black people don’t have the same connection as oil people.” West apologized for the remarks, but the damage has been done. "At a certain point—as much of a fan of Kanye as I am, and as much as I have faith in him as an artist (and a decent human being), it becomes difficult to ignore the depth of his cultural influence, and harder not to ask whether or not he actually knows the power his words can have," wrote Foster Kamer at Complex. Other agreed. "He says crazy stuff like he was the CEO of Crazy Stuff Company. Granted. But as I mentioned before, I like Kanye West and his music, and when he says things that have even a whiff of Jew baiting, it bums me out," said Arye Dworken at Heeb.

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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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