A roundup of the most talked about political and global stories in the Jewish world this week:
Bin Laden’s death
The big news around the world this week has been the death of the al Qaeda mastermind, and Jewish and Israeli leaders welcomed the news, according to reports. “It seems reasonable to view Osama bin Laden as a manifestation of Amalek and I am among those relieved and glad his soul has been sent for cosmic cleansing and rerouting,” said Rabbi Goldie Milgram in The Philadelphia Jewish Voice. But our tradition warns that we shouldn’t celebrate others’ demise, warned Rabbi Michael Lerner at The Huffington Post. “Our cup of joy cannot be full if our own liberation requires the death of those who were part of the oppressor society.” I also struggle with the American reaction to this announcement, said Peter Gabel at AlterNet. Celebration like we witnessed on Sunday night shows disrespect for human life, and even “undermines the moral character and worthiness of those responsible for the death itself.”
Some wonder about the Hamas-Fatah reconciliation struck last week and what that means for the potential for peace in the Middle East, reported JTA. This deal was “really stupid and damaging,” said Larry Derfner in The Jewish Journal. “It set back the cause of Palestinian independence, it made the occupation that much harder to dislodge, and the only people who’ll benefit from it are the rejectionists on both sides.” But this could actually work, too, said a New Zealand Herald editorial. If Hamas can temper its reputation, “a real chance exists for progress. Palestinian unity should be regarded an an opportunity, not an obstacle.”
Huckabee’s Holocaust gaffe
Both Mike Huckabee and Michele Bachmann recently used Nazi analogies to convey the severity of the mounting debt crisis, prompting an ADL response. This wasn’t Huckabee’s first run-in with the ADL’s criticism. Some of “the Republicans’ best and brightest continue to trivialize the Holocaust in the name of partisan politics,” said Avenging Angel at Daily Kos. While Huckabee does have Jewish support, said Michelle Goldberg in The Daily Beast, nobody should have “license to insinuate that higher marginal tax rates and tighter gun control are sort of like the Shoah.” And if he wants to maintain his good standing, he and others need to cut out these references, said M.J. Rosenberg at Talking Points Memo. “Will someone tell these right-wingers that professing their ‘love’ for Israel will not get them off the hook for trivializing the murder of 6,000,000 Jewish men, women and children in Europe?”
Pope John Paul II, who has dedicated himself to Catholic-Jewish relations among other things, was beatified at the Vatican on Sunday. We should praise him for his “historic revision and self-criticism of the Catholic Church’s past” that has allowed for “reconciliation between Christians and Jews after two millennia of hostility,” said Daniel Shoer Roth in the Miami Herald. “To the Jews, he is a saint.” Rabbi Jack Bemporad, writing at The Huffington Post, was impressed when he had the chance to meet him. “What one was left with after meeting with Pope John Paul was his complete dedication to the next step in dialogue wherein one must be true to one’s own faith without being false to the faith of the other—and how serious and difficult this task is.”
Yaroslavsky: Next L.A. mayor?
When current Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa vacates his position in 2013, it’s anyone’s guess who will take his seat. But now some experts are saying it will be L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, according to LA Weekly. For decades, he “has been mentioned as mayoral material, and for almost as long has been uninterested in the job,” but if he changes his mind Yaroslavsky “is clearly the man to beat.” So what’s holding him back? ““It’s largely a personal decision about what I want to do for the rest of my life,” Yaroslavsky said in February, quoted in The Jewish Daily Forward. For now, he’s focused on the work at hand.