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December 27, 2012

This week in power: Israel election, Hagel nomination, Gun plan, Christmas giving

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

Election coming
Israeli elections are a month away,  and "there's no shortage of hot-button issues that might dominate the campaign, including Iran's nuclear program, a call to draft religious students into the army and a growing budget deficit," reported the LA Times. What's clear is that a lot is on the line. "Barring a dramatic political earthquake, the outcome of this election is a foregone conclusion. Notwithstanding his weaknesses, in the absence of serious competition, Binyamin Netanyahu stands head and shoulders above any other candidate and will be reelected," said Isi Leibler at the Algemeiner. Satmar offers Israelis cash for not voting. But one barrier that could stand in Israelis' way is the anti-Zionist Satmar Hasidic sect's prospect that it will pay Israelis not to vote.

Hagel marches on
President Obama is reportedly considering other candidates for defense secretary after recent blowback over the possible nomination of Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel. Hagel previously has made controversial comments about Israel. "I think it is time to acknowledge, bluntly, that certain major Jewish organizations, indeed, the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations—also, the ADL, AIPAC, the American Jewish Committee, political groups like the Republican Jewish Coalition, along with their various columnists, pundits, and list-serves—are among the most consistent purveyors of McCarthyite-style outrages in America today. Are there greater serial defamers of public officials in fake campaigns against defamation?" asked Bernard Avishai at The Daily Beast. "I think it would be useful to have a defense secretary who starts with that view and does not have to be bludgeoned into it," said Thomas Friedman in The New York Times.

Gun myth
The NRA's aim to arm guards in schools is built around a false parallel to how Israel stops terrorists, according to experts. "Far from the image of a heavily armed population where ordinary people have their own arsenals to repel attackers, Israel allows its people to acquire firearms only if they can prove their professions or places of residence put them in danger. The country relies on its security services, not armed citizens, to prevent terror attacks." Wayne LaPierre "is not doing anybody any favors by trying to rope other countries into this problem, though," said Adam Clark Estes at The Atlantic Wire.

Jews give back
Even though Christmas isn't their holiday to celebrate, Jews around the country took their day off and used it on charitable actions. Indianapolis: "A group of Jewish volunteers serves food every Christmas at the church’s kitchen on Pennsylvania Street. Every year for the past 10 years, volunteers from the Congregation Beth el Zedeck, serve home-cooked meals to about 200 of the city’s homeless." Denver: "They were among more than 125 mostly Jewish volunteers who fanned out at hospitals and nursing homes around the metro area on Tuesday. They were serving meals, greeting guests, pouring tea and hot chocolate and otherwise lending a hand as part of the Christmas Mitzvah Project, a yearly day of service and a tradition for more than 25 years." Detroit: "More than 60 volunteers gathered at Beth Shalom in three shifts on Christmas to make sure 31 homeless people from South Oakland Shelter had a fun-filled holiday, according to event coordinator Julie Grodin. Lisa Lanzkron-Tamarazo, the cantor's wife, even led the guests in several rounds of Christmas carols."

Nice guys calendar
Ring in the new year with some nice Jewish guys included in the annual calendars that dates back to 2010. “If this calendar can accomplish anything, it would be my hope that women give this guy a chance out at a bar. He’s funny, nice and a great listener. What’s not to like!?" the creator said. Some were critical about who was left off the list. Others stood up against the entire project: "Since we all know feminists are humorless shrews, I’m also going to mention the fact that this whole operation is hinging on a hacky, lazy, insidious stereotype (apparently, all those things can exist at the same time): the rich, boring, nerdy Jewish guy. Can we please at least feign like we’re interested in reimagining Jewish masculinity? Surely there must be a middle ground between macho men, violence-obsessed guys, and the traditionally emasculated neb," said Chanel Dubofsky at The Jewish Daily Forward.

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