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July 28, 2011

This week in power: Cantor, Arab Spring, Gay marriage, Amy Winehouse

http://www.jewishjournal.com/blog/item/this_week_in_power_20110726/

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

Eric Cantor under fire
With debt ceiling talks heating up as the August 2 deadline quickly approaches, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is getting some perhaps unwanted attention. “Am I the only Jew in America who finds the House majority leader deeply embarrassing to our people? Am I the only tribe member who considers this smarmy yutz today’s numero-uno shonda fur die goyim?” asked Michael Takiff at Salon. Marc Tracy at Tablet wondered about the affects that talks could have on Israel bonds, but Commentary’s Seth Mandel defended Cantor saying that “Israel is not a partisan issue–unless Republicans are the targets of the attacks.” It’s hard to predict how the debt ceiling situation will end, but it’s clear that Cantor will play some sort of big role in the resolution or lack thereof. “Whatever his long-term goals, the next several weeks will go a long way toward deciding Cantor’s future,” said National Journal’s Major Garrett.

Is the Arab Spring coming to Israel?
Amid the turmoil taking place in neighboring nations, Israel has been relatively quiet this summer. But some are worrying that conflict and protests are on the horizon. Tens of thousands of students demonstrated in Tel Aviv over higher housing costs, which is a “political headache for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,” according to Batsheva Sobelman at the Los Angeles Times. But could there be an even bigger threat at hand? What if Palestinians in the region rise up? “Israel, of course, is no stranger to political upheaval and is better equipped than others to deal with the crisis. But, then, no one ever believed that the protests in Egypt in January would lead to the ouster of Hosni Mubarak in February. Seems anything is possible these days,” said Peter Gelling at the Global Post. “A chapter is being turned by popular revolution in Arab history,” said Larbi Sadiki at Al Jazeera. “Those unpacking the Arab Spring should not wish for the banners of Islamism or of Palestine absence. Rather, they should wish for Islamists to be engaging through democratic channels, and they should wish that Israel concedes Palestinians the right to be in an independent Palestine.”

Jewish gay couple weds first in NY
Two Jewish women - Phyllis Siegel, 77, and Connie Kopelov, 85 - became the first gay couple to get married in New York last weekend. Later in the week, Mayor Michael Bloomberg officiated another gay couple’s marriage. Not everyone, however, is happy with the state’s new law. Some organizations filed a lawsuit against the Marriage Equality Act, including the executive director of Torah Jews for Decency, an Orthodox Jewish “advocacy organization,” according to the Village Voice. Other Jewish New Yorkers were on hand on Sunday morning to protest the day’s first gay marriages. “To advance meaningful discussions within our communities on the issue of inclusion, we may first need to grapple with the perceptions of Otherness that many of us harbor, whether or not we are prepared to admit it,” said Mira Sucharov at Haaretz.

Amy Winehouse’s Jewish funeral
Fallen singer Amy Winehouse, who died last weekend at the age of 27, was buried on Tuesday as part of a Jewish ceremony. She was cremated, which violates traditional Jewish law. “An increasingly significant number of Jews are choosing cremation. It’s not something I would encourage, but we live as a part of the world,” said Rabbi Mark S. Diamond, as quoted by E! Online.“No matter how her parents designed her memorial, it was likely the best way they thought they could find some peace. And I say amen to that,” said Leslie Gornstein at E! As for Winehouse’s body itself, “some say the Jewish prohibition of tattoos can keep people with ink from a traditional Jewish burial, but that’s a misconception, as Jewish news sites have reminded the media in Winehouse’s case,” said Kate Shellnutt at the Houston Chronicle.

Larry David’s Palestinian chicken
The Curb star pushed the limits of political correctness on last week’s episode which “may have been their most Jewish episode to date,” said Alan Sepinwall at HitFix. “Some Israel lovers will find ‘Palestinian Chicken’ distasteful, but it’s a hit among David’s fans,” said Nathan Burstein at The Jewish Daily Forward. In this episode, Larry “holds his Jewishness at a distance and ends up turned on by the idea of rebelling against it, here by eating at a Palestinian restaurant and getting it on with the bird shack’s hot, virulently anti-Israel owner,” said James Poniewozik at Time. “But the elements of Jewish identity, and the way they dovetail and conflict with an individual’s desires and needs, put Larry David in Philip Roth territory this week,” added Ken Tucker at Entertainment Weekly. “Who needs Portnoy’s Complaint when you’ve got ‘Palestinian Chicken?’” joked Meredith Blake at The Onion’s A.V. Club.

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