Jewish Journal

This week in power: Obama recap, Flotilla apology, Twitter suit, Passover message

by Danny Groner

March 28, 2013 | 3:25 am

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

Presidential trip
President Obama spent two days in Israel last week. So how'd it go? "Of course there is only so much Obama can do. He can’t make Netanyahu negotiate peace, nor can he make Palestinians accept one. But as much as he could do with a speech, Obama did today. He probably wishes he gave it a long time ago," said Jonathan Chait at New York Magazine. "Will Mr. Obama also take the risks that will be needed to be a credible mediator and nudge the parties forward?" asked a New York Times editorial. "If Obama uses this trip as a first step of many in a concerted effort to persuade, to push, yes, to risk political capital in the name of a peace process, then this will have been, for all its limits, a signal moment," wrote David Remnick in The New Yorker. Stay tuned.

Flotilla ending
Remember that 2010 raid of a Turkish ship?  Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologized this week to Turkish leader Recep Erdogan for the "operational mistakes of the Israeli military," what's seen as the first steps toward mending fences between the two nations. "Whether or not there was direct involvement by President Obama to broker the apology is not clear, but there was certainly involvement by American officials, probably the State Department. Normalization of relations is in everyone's interest, including the US as relevant decisions regarding Syria are made. None of them will be easy, but both Turkey and Israel will play a major role," said Karl Gotthardt at Digital Journal. Not so fast, said Barry Rubin on his blog: "Perhaps these seeming word games and niceties are beyond the interest or comprehension of many people, but everyone involved directly on this issue knows exactly what is happening. Erdogan knows very well that this was not a Turkish victory—except in public relations-- though Israel won’t object to letting it be claimed as such."

Levy banned
Philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy was barred from visiting Libya last week because he is Jewish, according to reports. He was supposed to join French leader Nicolas Sarkozy on a visit in Tripoli, but was denied. "This is a depressingly familiar narrative that liberal Jews never seem to learn from no matter how often it repeats itself," wrote Daniel Greenfield at Front Page Mag. Levy is known to be in favor of the rebel forces whose revolution led to the rise to power of Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan. His banishment came as a surprise to many.

Lawsuit filed
The Union of French Jewish Students (UEJF) announced that it is suing Twitter over its failure to live up to its end of the bargain after the #unbonjuif case. At the time, a French court ordered Twitter to monitor racist and anti-Semitic remarks and to coordinate with police when those remarks arise, but the suit claims that the social networking site hasn't done its part thus far. UEJF president, Jonathan Hayoun told AFP: "Twitter is playing the indifference card." Twitter stands by its first amendment rights in the U.S. "While Twitter does reserve the right to disclose user information when requested by law, the social media site has always been an advocate for the privacy of its users," said one report.

Passover takeaways
America's most endeared holiday is among us, so what's the message this go-around? “It is not about sacrifice. It is really is about the separation and being aware of what you are eating and thanking God for that animal,” said one woman quoted in The Washington Post. “For me , Passover is a time of freedom. You think about the journey — the Exodus was a huge journey. I think about the personal journey in my life. It is definitely a time you want to be with family.” Rabbi Lawrence Troster also focused on the intrernal journey in his Huffington Post article. "Preparing for Passover then is not only about removing the physical leaven from our homes but also about the spiritual of the law: The cleaning out of our homes should also be a cleansing of our spirits, a renewal to the meaning of our Exodus experience and the new Creation that is spring."

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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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