Jewish Journal

This week in power: Pope resigns, Argentina plotting, Silverman sis, Soccer racism

by Danny Groner

February 14, 2013 | 2:56 am

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

Pope Benedict's legacy
How will we remember Pope Benedict XVI, who stepped down this week? He helped Catholic-Jewish relations during his tenure and "the need for ongoing dialogue between our communities," according to reports. "Although many Jews are still suspect about the motives of the Church and believe it to be just a new ploy in trying to convert us, I believe that the change in their attitude was sincere," said Harry Maryles in the Jewish Press. "They no longer consider us ‘Christ killers.’ They no longer say that Judaism has lost its legitimacy and has been replaced by Christianity. They now consider us their ‘older brother’ religion and quite legitimate." He was a true leader, said Brad Hirschfield in The Washington Post. "Pope Benedict functioned with his own unique brand of sharp intellect, defense of conservative Catholic teaching, and a genuine spirit of respect for as wide a range of people, both within and beyond the church, as possible."

Argentina fights back
Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner alleged that the head of Buenos Aires' Jewish community was a "foreign espionage agency that knows of a new terror attack planned against Argentina" after Argentina and Iran entered into an agreement to set up a committee to investigate a 1994 bombing there. "That the Argentinian leaders could collaborate with such a cynical whitewashing of the murder of their own citizens and create a 'truth commission' with a wretched, despotic, Holocaust denying regime should lead to the condemnation of the Argentinian government by the civilized world," wrote Isi Leibler in The Jerusalem Post. "It should be viewed as even worse than the Venezuela of Hugo Chavez, known to be one of Argentina’s principal allies and funders."

Settlement goes on
Israel's Defense Ministry approved this week the construction of 90 housing units in the settlement of Beit El, reported JTA, which upset many people around the world particularly ahead of President Obama's upcoming trip to Israel. The U.S. has urged Israel not to build in the territories. "The Palestinian position is clear. There can be no negotiations while settlement continues," a spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, said in response. "Officially, there is judicial oversight, so everything it does is hanky-dory. In practice, this oversight barely exists. The court approves just about everything, from land confiscation under dubious pretenses to the expulsion of 400 suspects without trial, and is notorious for admitting secret evidence. The judges often agonize over their decisions – but, with hardly any exception, once their ordeal is over, they approve whatever the government wants," said Yossi Gurvitz at 972mag.com.

Other Silverman arrested
Each month, some women gather at the wailing wall and don tallits, knowing they'll be arrested for their protest. It was different this time around -- or drew more attention at least -- because Sarah Silverman's sister and niece, were among those who participated. Rabbi Susan Silverman and her daughter Hallel Abramowitz are members of "Women of the Wall." "It allows non-Orthodox and women's prayer at Robinson's Arch at the southernmost part of the Kotel far away from the main prayer areas. But that area is not set up for prayer services and is in no way equivalent or roughly equivalent to the main kotel prayer areas," said one blogger. "This apparently bothers religious men and women because Jews can’t mind their own business," said another.

Soccer vandalism
"The torching of Beitar Jerusalem’s offices by fans angry at the signing of two Muslim players has sparked a major outcry which both supporters and ex-players hope could end decades of open racism at the club," reported AFP. Police arrested four people for the arsonthat caused extensive damage to the offices and destroyed team memorabilia. Politicians are stressing that this incident is rare and reflects only a very small population of people who oppose the move to sign Muslim players. ''We are not talking about 10 fans, we are talking about thousands of fans… and during the last year they shouted racist slogans inside and outside the stadium and no one really tried to stop them, not the police, not the club, not the attorney-general and not the Israeli Football Association,'' Arab-Israeli politician Ahmed Tibi said.

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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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