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August 4, 2011

This week in power: Border deal, Norway, Tent City, SF ban

http://www.jewishjournal.com/blog/item/this_week_in_power_border_deal_norway_tent_city_sf_ban_20110803/

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

Hope for a new border deal?
Peace talks look promising now that Israel has signaled it is willing to negotiate with the Palestinians based on the 1967 border of the West Bank, according to reports. But some believe this development may just be Israel posturing for public support. “Netanyahu’s new willingness to talk about borders, but only on his terms and if the Palestinians withdraw their U.N. bid,  is simply his latest move in the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian battle for international public opinion,” said Tony Karon at Time. Yeah, there’s nothing new here, agreed Adam Serwer at The Washington Post, since the ‘67 borders have long been the “framework” for peace. “I look forward to the harsh condemnations of Netanyahu from American members of Congress.” Said an Arab News editorial: “Despite the hype from Washington and Tel Aviv, there is no sign that Netanyahu has changed his mind on any of this.”

Lessons from Norway
Two weeks ago, a bomber carried out attacks on Norway, leaving scores dead. What’s the takeaway from this terrible tragedy? “The link between far-right politics and support for Israel bodes poorly for European Jews, who in many lands already must contend with a virulently anti-Israel—and anti-Semitic—climate. It also offers little comfort to Israel and her supporters, who are increasingly isolated and stymied in their efforts to make their case in the court of European public opinion,” said a Jewish Exponent editorial. Alan Dershowitz at Hudson New York agreed: “The time is long overdue for Norwegians to do some deep soul searching about their sordid history of complicity with all forms of bigotry ranging from the anti-Semitic Nazis to the anti-Semitic Hamas. There seems to be a common thread.” But it’s not uniquely a Jewish problem, said Charles Kimball at The Huffington Post. “It is a stark reminder that we share a fragile planet where ignorance, hate and fear can link easily with religious worldviews and produce horrific consequences.”

“Tent City”
Tens of thousands of Israelis are protesting rising housing prices, a grass-roots movement that’s gaining steam in the street of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. “The atmosphere is Tahrir Square protests meets Woodstock, meets last-year’s-camping holiday in the South of France,” reported the BBC. How similar is this to other recent protests? “Israel is much wealthier than Egypt and historically much more democratic—but the economic bind that has ignited protests looks similar,” said Gershom Gorenberg at The American Prospect. “When the dust has settled, this may be among the most important, if unexpected, outcomes of a protest that began with an eviction notice slipped under the door of a young video editor who’d just had enough,” said Noah Efrom at The Huffington Post. And, in the meantime, love is in the air.

The fight over Shariah law
Some states are grappling with how to handle the application of Islamic law, and a fierce anti-Shariah movement has spouted up, reported The New York Times. The paper profiled David Yerushalmi, a 56-year-old Hasidic Jew, who “has come to exercise a striking influence over American public discourse about Shariah.” But some readers protested. “This is one of those stories where you wonder if a piece about apples and oranges has been combined into a really weird-tasting fruit concoction. Is it a story about one crazy man’s influence? Or is it a story about whether anti-Shariah state laws are good or bad? Or is it both? If it is both, is it really possible for a single story to tackle both questions in a satisfactory way? asked Bobby at GetReligion. And the content of the story was misleading, too, said Richard N. Weltz at American Thinker. “Forget all the evidence in plain sight of efforts to inflict Muslim belief and practice on our society—and others in the Western world. It’s all just Jewish and Republican make-believe to the New York Times.”

Circumcision ban bill removed
A San Francisco County Superior Court judge ruled late last week that a measure prohibiting male circumcision should be taken off the fall ballot. Judge Loretta M. Giorgi worried that the propsoed ban would violate citizens’ right to the free exercise of religion. Jews around the world celebrated the decision. “This measure to ban one of the most fundamental tenets of Judaism undermines our cherished American value of religious freedom,” B’nai B’rith president Allan J. Jacobs said, as quoted in The Jerusalem Post.

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