Jewish Journal

This week in power:  Obama, Flotilla, King’s Torah, Two Worlds

by Danny Groner

July 7, 2011 | 5:46 am

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

Jews support Obama after all
Despite some recent concerns over his popularity and support, Obama can apparently rest assured that Jewish Americans back him. According to Gallup, the president saw only a small decline in June, with just 32 percent of U.S. Jews disapproving of the job he’s doing, on par with how he’s fared throughout the year. “Maybe support for Obama among Jews will ultimately erode, and stories suggesting that’s the case are ahead of the curve. The evidence, however, suggests the exact opposite,” said Greg Sargent in The Washington Post. Wait, we may not learn anything from this poll after all, warned Tina Korbe at Hot Air. “After all, the poll didn’t specifically seek out Jewish Americans noted for political involvement. It could be the (randomized) sample that so strongly supports Obama just happens to barely vote, let alone donate.”

Jews leaving Capitol Hill?
“One of the possible consequences of New York Rep. Anthony Weiner’s Twitter-gate affair is another decline in the number of Jewish representatives in Congress,” The Jewish Daily Forward forecasted a couple weeks ago. So CNN crunched the numbers: There are 13 Jews in the Senate and 28 in the House, all but one a Democrat; the lone Republican is House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. Since the 112th Congress convened in January, two Jews have resigned their seats,” CNN reported. Have no fear, joked Blair Burke at Wonkette about the growing Mexican presence in Congress: “The Zionist Mexicans will take back Israel and then Obama will win forever, the end.”

Another Gaza Flotilla controversy
Last week Greece blocked activists from sailing to Gaza with an aid shipment in defiance of Israel’s sea blockade, according to reports. Even if the nation has opposed Israel, “the debt-wracked Greeks have an even greater incentive to cozy up to its rich Mediterranean neighbor.” Some are saluting Greece for its turn-of-face. “The Greeks have gotten loads of bad press lately, what with riots in the streets and a debt crisis that threatens to take down Europe and, perhaps, more far-flung lands. But now they deserve the world’s thanks for preventing a seagoing provocation,” said a New York Daily News editorial. A full report about last year’s incident is due out this week. “We should not play into the hands of the flotilla organizers who are perpetuating hostility rather than working towards a real and lasting peace,” said Eric B. Stillman in the Florida Sun Sentinel.

“The King’s Torah” debate
Police questioned two prominent rabbis over their endorsement of a book, “The King’s Torah,” that condones the killing Arabs and other non-Jews. The questioning has prompted protests. Even after they were released, outrage went on. Others have responded differently. “Rabbis should have a special status and be treated with respect, but this status does not put them beyond the law of the land. They are religious leaders, not demigods,” said Liat Collins in The Jerusalem Post. “And as leaders, they need to be particularly aware of the direction in which they are taking the country. The problem is not religion, as secular friends immediately claimed, but how religion is interpreted.”

“Between Two Worlds” reviews
A new film, called “Between Two Worlds,” is going around the Jewish film festival circuit, and provoking discussion about Jewish identity, politics, and intermarriage, among other topics. So how is it? “Proceeding with the thinnest of throughlines and only intermittent commentary, ‘Between Two Worlds’ treats central events with rather cursory, colorless reportage, while more tangential topics, such as the filmmakers’ private histories, come alive. Yet the docu’s patchwork exploration of who speaks for the tribe may accurately reflect individual Jews’ experience of their scattered heritage,” said Ronnie Scheib at Variety. And it’ll leave you thinking about it and talking about it, said Michael Kaminer at The Jewish Daily Forward. “By using their personal histories as connective tissue, the husband-and-wife filmmaking team manages to present a forceful work that draws power by raising questions that don’t find any neat resolutions. And, judging from this film, may never.

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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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