Jewish Journal


March 31, 2011

This Week in power: Facebook, J Street, Palin, Jimmy Carter


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

Facebook removes uprising page
On Tuesday, Facebook took down a page that had 340,000 fans that called on Palestinians to take up arms against Israel, following cries from pro-Israel users. The page that promoted a “Third Palestinian Intifada” was protested by some major Israeli and American Jewish leaders. This should be a lesson to anyone who believes that “social networking sites are powers only for facilitating democratic uprisings and other good ends,” said a New York Daily News editorial. “They remind, too, that fanatics looking to find like-minded villains” can find a community online. “We applaud Facebook’s ability to acknowledge when a line has been crossed; we’d support the same action for a page inciting violence against Palestinians, or anyone,” said the Jewish Chronicle. But similar sites are already popping up, warned Emil Protalinski at ZDNet. “It looks to me like it has chopped off the snake’s head, although the body is still writhing.”

J Street’s agenda in Israel
The topic of whether J Street is anti-Israel came up at the Knesset last week, amid protests from outside organizations. “Actions will always speak louder than words,” said Matthew RJ Brodsky and Samara Greenberg at American Thinker, and J Street repeatedly shows its support for Israeli’s antagonists. “Now is not the time for Israel to push away its friends and family,” said J Street president Jeremy Ben-Ami in Hill editorial. We stand for “values and policies that we believe are critical to the long-term security and vibrancy of Israel and the Jewish people.” Maybe they have done served one purpose, though. “Agree or disagree with J Street. But it seems hard to argue that it hasn’t injected some vigor into the discussion in America over Israeli policy,” said Jacob Heilbrunn at The National Interest. After all, added The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, “those American Jews, who believe that J Street, and the spirit it represents, are fleeting phenomena have absolutely no idea what is happening in the Jewish world.”

Palin’s Israel trip fallout
Even after Sarah Palin’s visit to Israel ended, the commentary carried on. What was her mission? many wondered. Like everything else she does, said Jonathan S. Tobin at Commentary, this was considered an early step toward a presidential run. Admittedly, she made a blunder when she called the debate over settlements a “zoning issue” - “it is an existential question that goes to the very heart of whether or not there ought to be a Jewish state no matter where its borders might be drawn,” said Tobin. But attacks were “a bit overblown.” She showed some courage, too, because she is “the only politician, in either party, who has been prepared to speak up for the right of Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria,” said a New York Sun editorial. Not only is she a “remarkable friend of Israel,” she is also “a political matriarch here at home.” Well, that wasn’t her objective for this trip, said Sarah Posner at Religious Dispatches. Palin is “far more comfortable with an evangelical approach” and “like many of her co-religionists, the Jews are adorable pawns in God’s plan.” That’s more in keeping with her own faith.

Hispanic-Jewish conference
In Texas, a two-day event titled “Bridges & Pathways” brought together local and national leaders from both Jewish and Hispanic groups to discuss the topics of immigration, education, the state of Israel, and more, according to the San Antonio Express-News. “It underscored what has been a longtime reality of deep friendship and collaboration in San Antonio,” said the story’s writer. How was the conference received? “One thing is clear: with Latinos poised to play a powerful role in American politics and culture, every other group — including the Jewish community — is looking for Latino partners,” said James Besser at The Jewish Week. Moreover, this points to the “ongoing importance of the community relations agenda for a tiny Jewish community,” said a Jewish Week editorial. These “alliances around domestic issues” will foster good will to help “the cause of protecting the critical U.S.-Israel relationship” down the line.

Jimmy Carter in Cuba
President Jimmy Carter left Cuba after a three-day stint without American Alan Gross, the contractor who’s been jailed there on charges of spying. Carter’s visit was noteworthy - he’s only the second president to visit Cuba since 1928 - and served the purpose of promoting improved relations between the countries. Even a six-hour meeting with President Raul Castro couldn’t bring Gross home. “By meeting with Raul and possibly Fidel, Carter will help re-legitimate the leaders whose repression of the Cuban people continues unabated,” warned Ray Walser at The Heritage Foundation. But with an American in prison there, that takes a backseat. “I hope Gross gets out, by whatever means,” said Jay Nordlinger at National Review.

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