Jewish Journal

This week in power: Obama’s stand, France fallout, Greece fear, Sendak legacy

by Danny Groner

May 10, 2012 | 4:58 am

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

Obama poll
Each week a new poll seems to come out proving the same thing: Obama is doing well with the Jewish vote, but down from 2008 numbers. This time it was an AJC survey showing that the President has the edge over Mitt Romney in many major areas. And with the President’s outspoken stance in favor of gay marriage late Wednesday, he has Jewish support behind him. But that could still all change in the coming months, warned MJ Rosenberg in The Huffington Post. “The bottom line is that a not insignificant percentage of Jews are, at least as of May, disillusioned with Obama’s presidency. If these numbers hold, it could cause problems for the president.”

Hollande’s win
Francois Hollande won the French election earlier this week and some French Jews are worried. “How France’s Jewish community will fare in the future, or what position the new president will take with regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, is now anyone’s guess,” said Alina Dain Sharon in the Agemeiner. But the Jewish Week’s Adam Dickter cautioned not jumping to any conclusions just yet about the new French leader. “Probably, though, no dramatic shifts are on store in the Israel-France relationship. But Jerusalem is hoping that Hollande will continue to press hard against Iran, the number one issue for Israel now,” he said.

Biden gets charged
Vice President Joe Biden used strong rhetoric when defending Israel and arguing that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would be ousted within two years, according to reports. He made the comments in front of the Rabbinical Assembly’s annual convention in Atlanta on Tuesday, and he was critical of the past administration for not doing more to stop Iran from developing nuclear arms. “By going the extra diplomatic mile, presenting Iran with a clear choice, we demonstrated to the region and world that Iran is the problem, not the United States. That’s why China, Russia, Europe, and the rest of the world have joined us in these sanctions,” he said. But his visit wasn’t without issue. Biden suffered from a gaffe and a distraction that left people tickled.

Greece fear
Jewish leaders in Greece are worried about the fascist Golden Dawn party taking over the Greek parliament. “It is very disappointing that in a country like Greece, where so many were killed fighting the Germans, that a neo-Nazi party is now in parliament,” said a Jewish leader. Greece’s Jewish community is roughly 7,500 people, who already faced severe economic hardships. “The explosion of rage following the elections has left members of Greece’s Jewish community - and many others - confused. It is not difficult to read signs of concern about the rise of extremism in the country. While fascist parties are not new on Greece’s political landscape, the country’s current economic crisis has stirred an unprecedented number of outraged citizens to turn to extremist politics,” reported Haaretz.

Maurice Sendak’s legacy
“In the midst of this latest news, though, let’s not forget that Maurice Sendak was a Gay, Jewish man,” wrote a Jewish Journal blogger. How much did Sendak’s Jewish identity influence his work? “Chosenness in some renderings—including those of American Jews themselves during the nineteenth century—was a matter of essentialized, inherited identity; though this was debated and held in tension with more universalist models,” said Jodi Eichler-Levine at Religion Dispatches. “In the post-Holocaust period, these notions were rejected by many Jews due to the traits it shared with Nazi ideology, yet in some spheres, biological definitions of Jewishness keep emerging. As an American Jewish writer without children, Sendak moves us past the continuity crises and panics that dominated American Jewish discussions in the 1990s.” And while his books are primarily read to kids, said Jason Miller at JTA, “It wasn’t until I was an adult that I saw the Jewish flavor that peppers Sendak’s works. The characters in his most well-known children’s story are based on his old Jewish relatives. In some of his stories, Yiddish words are interspersed with his poetic English.”

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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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