Jewish Journal


June 23, 2011

This week in power: Obama, Kentucky, Yale resolution, Dog sentencing


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

Obama reassures Jewish donors
President Obama met with Jewish donors on Monday night, hoping he can win back their support after a rough patch with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The president reportedly spoke candidly with the 80 attendees who made donations of at least $25,000 apiece to be there. Of course they walked away feeling reassured, said Jennifer Rubin in The Washington Post, because “they are paying him to be reassured. When you plunk down that kind of cash you don’t want to be told you’ve put your money on the wrong horse.” Still, the president has a long way to climb, said Jonathan S. Tobin at Commentary. “As one person who attended the Obama fundraiser told Politico, the number of ovations the president received was not as many as Netanyahu got from Congress.” And organizers were reportedly “scrambling” in recent weeks just to fill those seats at all at the fundraiser.

Kentucky gubernatorial race and religion
While the candidates for governor and lieutenant governor all agreed to leave religion out of the campaign, they haven’t been able to stick to the agreed upon rules, and things are growing a bit hostile in Kentucky. One Republican backer said that Jerry Abramson was only picked as a running mate “to attract New York and Hollywood Jewish money” for the campaign.” But some are striking back against these vicious comments. Kentucky politician Jonathan Miller wrote at The Huffington Post, “During my 14 years in state politics and public service, I never encountered serious anti-Semitism. Just the opposite: When I spoke to rural crowds about the Talmud or my own spirituality, I was consistently met with warm feedback.” But Abramson might have some other accusations to deal with, too.

Yale replaces YIISA
Yale University announced on Monday it would start a new initiative to study anti-Semitism after massive outrage erupted when the school said it would close its Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Anti-Semitism (YIISA). The new initiative will be called the Yale Program for the Study of Anti-Semitism. It will reportedly cover “‘new’ antisemitism, Muslim antisemitism,” said Abby W. Schachter in the New York Post. It makes you wonder “why did they have to close YIISA in the first place?” While it’s a step forward, said Fred Messner at FrumForum, we can’t just forget this saga. “The new initiative marks a victory for opponents of anti-Semitism, but the experience of the past few weeks has given Jews reason to doubt the steadfastness of Yale’s commitment to the program.”

No ‘rabbi’ on Argentina’s ballot
An Argentine court ruled last weekend that candidates on local elections may not have the title, “rabbi,” appear with their names on the ballot, according to reports. Rabbi Sergio Bergman argued that he’s better known by “Rabbi Bergman” than by his birth name, and wanted to appear as such for the election. But the court found that the title of rabbi carries a “positive connotation” that could influence voters. “Using that logic, the court would bar elected leaders from using their elected office title in re-elections—President Obama couldn’t use ‘president’ on the ballot for his 2012 re-election,” said Fef at Sodahead.com. “I hope the court wrote its decision with sincerity and not anti-Semitism.” Voters will also have the chance to vote for neo-Nazi: Alejandro Biondini of the Social Alternative party, who Jewish groups unsuccessfully lobbied to get banned from running.

Did an Israeli dog get stoned?
In one of the more bizarre stories of the week, Israeli newspaper Maariv reported that a stray dog had wandered into a neighborhood where witnesses believed that it was “a reincarnation of a secular lawyer who insulted the court’s judges 20 years ago,” according to reports. And it was thus sentenced to death via stoning. But later reports indicated that the story wasn’t true, had been inflated, and all that happened was the canine was caught by a dog catcher. Even before the truth came out, some were skeptical about the whole thing. “Does something smell iffy about this story? Or am I being too skeptical?” asked Mollie at GetReligion. Others, on the other hand, used this case to push for more humane treatment of all dogs. “While this case is justifiably drawing international attention, dogs all over the world are also facing ‘death sentences’ in laboratories, on fur farms, and in backyards,” said PETA’s Jennifer O’Connor at Opposing Views.

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