A roundup of the most talked about political and global stories in the Jewish world this week:
Yitzhak Shamir, an underground fighter and former prime minister of Israel, died at age 96 last weekend. How is he remembered? “In retrospect, Shamir’s cool, patient leadership style seems to have been far wiser than either Peres’ dreamy belief in the Palestinians’ desire for peace or those on the right who thought their rhetoric could persuade the West to see things from Israel’s point of view,” said Jonathan S. Tobin at Commentary. “Yitzhak Shamir was truly made of the very fibers of which history is woven. We must all strive to fulfill the legacy of Prime Minster Shamir,” said Danny Danon at The Algemeiner. “His leadership harkens back to an era in Israeli history where leaders were passionate Zionists who stood their ground and didn’t cede precious land to annihilationists and Jew-haters. How we yearn for such men,” added Pamela Geller at Atlas Shrugs.
“A leader of Hungary’s anti-Semitic Jobbik party confessed to having Jewish origins, but Jewish leaders reacted to his statement dismissively,” reported JTA. But that didn’t change things for how people viewed Csanad Szegedi. Some even made light of the situation. It’s too early to tell the impact that this announcement may have, said Palash R. Ghosh at International Business Times. “In the coming weeks and months, we may learn why he concealed his ancestry for so long – out of self-hatred or political expediency? It will also be interesting to see how his Jobbik comrades deal with this news.”
Romney to Israel
Former Gov. Mitt Romney is set to take a trip to Israel this summer to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in hopes of building up his Jewish vote, according to reports. No other details of the trip have been revealed. “One more sign of just how much Romney and the Republicans see Israel as a potential wedge issue—but is it about Jewish voters, Jewish donors and/or conservative Christians?” asked JTA’s Ami Eden. But the person Israel really wants to see is President Obama, said a Jerusalem Post editorial. “Some on the Right have conjectured that Obama is avoiding a visit to Israel now because he wants to play down the tensions that exist between himself and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Others have even claimed that Obama is concerned that if he comes to Israel, he will be booed by Israeli crowds. However, there is little evidence to support these claims.” We want him to visit.
Australia’s Jewish population has risen 10 percent in the last five years to nearly 100,000, reported the 2011 census by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Because the religion question in the poll is optional, it’s hard to give exact numbers. In fact, Judaism isn’t listed at all as an option, and they must select “other.” It opens up complicated issues in terms of identity and survival. And that rise may not be telling for the future, at the rate we’re going. “Property prices around the traditional Jewish suburbs in Sydney and Melbourne are spiralling out of control and are becoming unreachable for an increasing section of the community,” wrote The Australian Jewish News.
A Holocaust survivor pageant?
Fourteen elderly women hit the red carpet last week at an event in Haifa to be crowned Miss Holocaust Survivor. Seriously. Organizers called it a “celebration of life” and said that the participants were in good spirits about the whole thing. Others, however, disagreed on the merits of the event. “The woman with the worst tale of woe and most engagingly pathetic air usually carried the day, weeping copiously as she was crowned,” said Judith Thurman in The New Yorker. Israel has an “insatiable appetite of the public for titillating, demeaning, if not sadistic, spectacles.” “Validating this idea of ranked suffering undermines the great personal and collective trauma, reducing it to a pissing match,” added Miriam Krule at Slate.