Jewish Journal


January 24, 2013

This week in power: Election results, Weberman verdict, Concert canceled, MLK Day message


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

Netanyahu reelected
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu kept his seat as a result of Tuesday's election, but he's been severely weakened, according to reports. Now he has to "fashion a coalition that will also accommodate the rising hawkish wing of his Likud party and other rightist and religious parties that will remain influential in parliament," said The Washington Post. "The prospect for a two-state solution has never looked worse. The irony is that Bibi Netanyahu will go down in history as the leader who destroyed the Jewish identity of Israel," said MSNBC's Rula Jebreal. Nobody has forgotten how Netanyahu tried to single-handedly push the topic of Iran into American politics in recent months, said Roger Cohen at The New York Times. "This was an attempt to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes. It infuriated many world leaders. It isolated Israel. It did not work — not with Obama and not with Israelis who want to be leveled with. Think again, Bibi."

Bennett's momentum
The other big story from Tuesday's election was the far-right Jewish Home party winning more seats in parliament. Still, their leader, Naftali Bennett, called it a "disaster," as he had hoped to gain more power than the party did. The peace process is front and center on everyone's minds. "This generation, and Israeli society as a whole, has lost hope in peace and has begun searching for other solutions, even ones as unviable as Bennett’s," said Gabriel Fisher at The Daily Beast. "Whereas it was once informed by the collectivist ethos handed down from the first, pioneering generation of Israeli state-builders, the Zionism of Benjamin Netanyahu and Naftali Bennett is rooted in something much more primal: fear," said Matt Hill at The Daily Telegraph. "Like all demagogues, Netanyahu (who is sure to remain prime minister after the vote) knows the value of fear, and has spent the last four years frightening his people with the spectre of Iranian nukes, Palestinian terror and international anti-semitism."

Abuse case trial
The trial of therapist Nechemya Weberman, who was accised of sexually abusing a child, ended this week with Weberman being sentenced to 103 years in prison. He is a member of the Satmar Hasidic community in New York, a sect notorious for covering up similar abuses within its community. “The message should go out to all victims of sexual abuse that your cries will be heard and justice will be done,” Justice John G. Ingram said when announcing the verdict. Members fo the Satmar community were reportedly surprised by the length of the sentence that came down.

Losing Lollapalooza
The music festival that put its name on the map in America and was set to bring its theatrics to Tel Aviv this summer is no longer after Lollapalooza was canceled. It hit South America in recent years and was planning to expand to include Israel. No reason was immediately given for the cancellation. As tempers flare overseas, "it'll be interesting to see whether the temperature in the Mideast drops enough to allow a Lolla offshoot in the future — or, tragically, continues rising," said Marc Hogan at Spin. Jews around the world who intended to fly in for the festivities are bummed. "We will pour out some of our Manischewitz while mourning your loss, Israel," said one blogger.

What MLK meant
On Monday, American celebrated the passing of the civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. "It can well be said that the significant role Jews played in the civil rights movement half a century ago was an important contributing factor to the eventual election of an African-American as president of the United States," said Marc Schneier at The Jewish Daily Forward. "We can only speculate how, had he lived, Dr. King might have helped heal the divisions between Jews and African-Americans - or even the contributions he could have made toward achieving Middle East peace," added Staurt Appelbaum at the Jewish Journal. A legend lost.

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