A roundup of the most talked about political and global stories in the Jewish world this week:
Iran flares up
A joint anti-missile exercise has been pushed back to the summer and the anticipation over the visit to Israel of Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, this week has Iran back front and center. “If you’re an optimist you may decide to interpret the comings and goings of the US and Israeli generals as yet another way to intimidate Iran and prevent it from manufacturing nuclear arms,” said Rabbi Dow Marmur at the Jewish Journal. But Lynn Gottlieb at the Fellowship of Reconciliation warned that “outside military intervention will only make matters worse for everyone.” What would an Israeli attack provoke, exactly? The New York Times’ Roger Cohen lays it all out:It “unites Iran in fury, locks in the Islamic Republic for a generation, cements the Syrian regime, radicalizes the Arab world at a moment of delicate transition, ignites Hezbollah on the Lebanese border, boosts Hamas, endangers U.S. troops in the region, sparks terrorism, propels oil skyward, triggers a possible regional war, offers a lifeline to Iran just as Europe is about to stop buying its oil, adds a Persian to the Arab vendetta against Israel, and may at best set back Iran’s nuclear ambitions a couple of years.”
Where’s the Jewish vote stand?
Mitt Romney appears to be ahead of the Republican pack when it comes to the Jewish vote, according to the Jewish Journal, “a sign that A. Jewish Americans are really becoming more conservative (as some have argued), or B. That Obama’s policies (on Israel and other matters) were truly hurting the Democratic ticket with one of the most staunchly Democratic groups in America.” At a recent event, it was reported, Romney said: “And I would note that there are people in our nation that have different beliefs; there are people of the Jewish faith, and people of Islamic faith, and other faiths who believe other things, and our president will be president of the people of all faiths.” But Romney’s respect for the Jewish people hasn’t come without opposition. Stay tuned.
Israel’s “False flag” allegation
The Israeli government denied that it had intelligence officer pose as CIA officers to assassinate Iranian officials. The events reportedly took place in 2007 and 2008. The so-called false-flag accusation came to surface just after the latest assassination of an Iranian nuclear scientist. “No good realists should be surprised when countries do deceitful or underhanded things to try to advance their interests, and if that’s the way the Israelis want to play it, so be it,” said Stephen M. Walt at Foreign Policy. “But this sort of behavior helps you understand why more and more U.S. officials are questioning the ‘special relationship,’ no matter what they have to say in public to keep the lobby quiet.” David Dayen at Firedoglake warned that this kind of escalation should be considered carefully. “We’re seeing a significant rising in the possibilities for war, and the genus of much of the tension comes from spy games played by either Israel or a Western consortium, outside the boundaries of international law.”
New Jersey hate
Someone is vandalizing synagogues in New Jersey and parts of New York by spray-painting swastikas and other hateful messages. In other cases, Molotov cocktails were thrown. It has local Jews on edge. In one of the incidents, people have arrested a suspect, who is Jewish, who apparently was tormenting his mother. “If we act as if the vandals represent the tip of an anti-Semitic iceberg, Jews are going to have to accept the kind of security seen in many European synagogues and Jewish centers: armed guards, 24-hour surveillance, garrison architecture. The costs — literal and in a lost sense of well-being — will be enormous,” said Andrew Silow-Carroll in the New Jersey Jewish News. And some wonder if anti-Semitism is on the rise.
Haagen-Dazs under fire
Kosher-keeping Ice cream lovers may lose one of their favorite snacks if the Chief Rabbinate in Israel has its way, as Haagen-Dazs fights to keep its kosher certification. The ice cream is reportedly made with an unsupervised liquid milk that causes “a severe infringement of kashrut procedures.” “Why the ban has been issued now remains unclear. The rabbinate claim their notice about Haagen Dazs has been issued several times previously but gone unheeded, recommending Israelis turn to home-made kosher ice creams to fill the gap,” according to The Telegraph. Some consumers are worried: “Still, I shudder to think what’s next. No more Toyota cars and trucks in Israel because their carburetors aren’t sufficiently supervised? A blockade on iPhones because the workers in the assembly plants might be eating ham and cheese sandwiches while checking the screens for glitches? A ban on seaweed for sushi because it might contain traces of shellfish (oh, wait, that already happened,” said Brian Blum at Israelity.com.