Jewish Journal


February 16, 2012

This week in power: Embassy attacks, Mormon apology, Contraception, Oprah


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

Who was behind the bombings?
Israel pointed at Iran for Monday’s attacks on Israeli diplomatic missions in India and Georgia, but some argued that Israel had planted the explosives itself to “tarnish Iran’s friendly ties with the host countries,” according to reports. “The Indian and international media have gone ballistic about it without a shred of evidence. If the argument is that the Indian prime minister’s house is in the vicinity and reveals lapses in our security, then why is no one apprehensive about our situation? It raises questions beyond safety measures,” said Farzana Versey at CounterPunch.. Well excuse us if that’s not our primary concern, said Nooredin Abedian in the Jewish Journal. “Iran’s leaders resort to terror because the tool has proven its effectiveness in the past.” And it should be stopped immediately.

Mormons regret baptism
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued an apology for a Mormon who baptized the late parents of famed Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal. “The practice stems from the belief that after the time of Christ, Christianity went astray. The faithful consider the Mormon faith Christianity restored and baptisms not conducted by the restored Church essentially don’t count. So Mormons are out to baptize those who didn’t have these restored baptisms,” reported NPR. Will this controversy have a political effect? “Presumably Mitt Romney will try very hard to ignore the whole controversy, and/or defer to LDS officials,” said Ed Kilgore at Washington Monthly. “I’m sure his campaign would love to see a very active news day to bury—no pun intended—the story.”

Jews, Obama, and contraception
“What were the Jews doing becoming so involved in a debate over contraception?” asked Ron Kampeas at JTA. With Obama’s controversial stance on offering contraception at religious establishments, the debate is in full force. “Without doubt each individual has the right to decide on the path best suited for them. Likewise each religious institution has the right to define its moral positions. The State has no business compelling the Church to compromise on its standards,” said Dovid Efune at the Algemeiner. Outrage was rampant, from all walks of life. “We believe the exemptions for purely religious practices are sound, and we believe that making contraception universally available and affordable is a sound public policy decision,” said a St. Louis Jewish Light editorial. “The compromise rule in particular demonstrates respect for religious belief and institutions, while taking a significant step in favor of reproductive rights and health.”

Oprah’s Brooklyn visit
Oprah made waves this week with the debut of “Oprah’s Next Chapter” that features the talk show queen visiting Crown Heights and talking to ultra-Orthodox Jews about their lifestyles. “We are more alike than we are different,” Winfrey said on the program. “The moment I walked into the Ginsberg’s home. I felt welcomed. I felt a sense of warmth. A sense of family, comfort, and value.” “Whether you are a Christian, Muslim, or or an Atheist you have something to gain by watching this two-part series,” said Adam Croan at The Urban Twist. “I think it is important that we, as Americans, learn more about the people and the heritage that make up the collective society we live in. In the process it may allow you to look at your own beliefs about God and family while learning about the Hasidic Jewish community that lives in Brooklyn, New York.” But you should tune in for other reasons, too, said Rachel Shukert at Tablet. “The fascination lies in watching Oprah herself, as she struggles, with barely concealed shock, to grasp her own irrelevance in the lives of these people.”

Beinart’s book
Peter Beinart’s new book, The Crisis of Zionism, had been met by strong opposition. “In it he attempts to tear apart the relationship of admiration, support and defense that has existed between Israel and American Jewry for over a century.,” said Yisrael Medad in The Jerusalem Post. But not everyone agreed. “Yet, as Beinart chronicles, major American Jewish organizations, their agendas often swayed by a few wealthy donors (like the casino mogul Sheldon Adelson), have in general made uncritical defense of Israel — rather than constructive criticism — the cornerstone of their policies and viewed deviation from the ever-refreshed victimhood narrative as unacceptable dissent,” said The New York Times’ Roger Cohen. But the writer may have made some enemies in his marketing of the book as well. “Peter Beinart raises crucial, abiding issues. Then he compares those who take a different view to racist destroyers of democracy,” said Rabbi David Wolpe in the Jewish Journal. “This is not debate. This is not dialogue. This is demagoguery. He is better than this and we must be, too.”

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