Jewish Journal

This week in power: Syria airstrikes, Scottish church, Beck comparison, Hawking retreat

by Danny Groner

May 9, 2013 | 3:51 am

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

Serious about Syria
"Israeli airstrikes in Syria on Iranian weapons destined for Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia could be seen as heralding wider international involvement in Syria’s intractable civil war," reported the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday. Israel hasn't formally admitted to bombing the weapons caches. "Nothing would unite Syria like a common enemy, and yet even when the common enemy invades their country, it makes more international headlines than in Syria itself," said Marc Ambinder at The Week. "At the end of the day, it's an issue of survival (for Assad) and retaliation will further endanger that survival," Bilal Saab, director of the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis, North America, told the Associated Press. "The most existential threat (to the regime) is the rebels, not Israel."

Great Scot!
Scottish Jews called out the Church of Scotland for a paper that denies the Jews' claim to the land of Israel, according to reports. In“The Inheritance of Abraham,” it stated that “reconciliation can only be possible if the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem and the blockade of Gaza are ended." The Church and Society Council of the Church of Scotland put it out last week. "The church owes the Jewish people an apology for this incendiary text that is more fitting to the 13th century than to this one. Jewish groups, Church of Scotland members and others must join together to oppose and repudiate this vicious and defamatory text," wrote Seth J. Frantzman at The Jerusalem Post.

Beck's comments
Glenn Beck has a long history of making controversial comments, especially when it comes to comparing people to Nazis. At the National Rifle Association's annual convention last weekend, Beck compared New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to Hitler and reportedly gave a Nazi salute. Beck played down the comments, but you can decide. Here they are: "When somebody argues for gun control, they are either living in self-imposed ignorance or they are just living an argument of control," Beck stressed to the crowd of more than 10,000. He urged the group "to make sure that we give no more power to those in government at any level," and held New York City up as an example of where things are headed. "I am amazed at how many of my New York friends have become absolute dopes and just will accept the soda ban, the popcorn ban, the salt ban," he spat. "I've come up with a new advertisement for New York, a new slogan: 'You will love New York!'"

Hawking rouses anger
People were aghast on Wednesday when news came out that Stephen Hawking opted to join a boycott at an Israeli conference against the state's occupation of Palestine. Many were quick to point out that Hawking depends on Israeli technology in the computer equipment that helps him function. "Calls for academic boycotts of Israel are longstanding in the United Kingdom, and have been proposed numerous times at meetings of academic trade unions, with varying success. Although some researchers have backed boycotts, others call them counterproductive," wrote Daniel Cressey at Nature.

Lipman smear
American Dov Lipman, who is a freshman Knesset member of the Yesh Atid party, had his name besmirched this week by the head of his former yeshiva. At issue for Rabbi Aharon Feldman was speculation that Lipman would try to shut down some ultra-Orthodox schools that don't teach secular studies. In fact, Lipman has no such plans. He dealt with it with a classy op-ed at Baltimore Jewish Life. Lipman wrote: "I certainly hope the misquote will be acknowledged and that the comparison to Amalek and Haman will be taken back.  Misunderstandings happen and can always be corrected. Let us all learn the lesson of the dangers of the rumor mill and misquotes and let's work together to strengthen Torah study, the spreading of Torah values, and unity amongst the Jewish people."

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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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