A roundup of the most talked about political and global stories in the Jewish world this week:
How’s Obama doing?
“The 2012 election, most analysts believe, will hinge on the state of the economy, but in the Jewish community the Israel issue can figure prominently, in the race both for money and votes,” reported The Jewish Week. So far, Obama has held on pretty well in polls. “Of course, party affiliation really has no bearing on how people will vote in the general election,” warned Adam Dickter, also in The Jewish Week. But he may be focused on the wrong population, said Cokie & Steve Roberts in a syndicated column. “Obama can’t leave that politically dangerous charge unanswered in this churchgoing country. The Republican candidates are already trying to capitalize on the bishops’ concern. Without some conciliatory move from the White House, the president risks losing a significant number of Catholic voters in an election where he can’t afford to lose one.”
Furor in Nevada
Mitt Romney may have walked away the big winner in the Nevada primary last weekend, but that doesn’t mean all went smoothly. Orthodox Jews, who couldn’t vote before sundown, were given special permission to vote in the evening, a permission that some believed should have been granted to everyone. “Why wouldn’t I be able to vote just because I’m not Jewish?” one Ron Paul supporter said. See others complain about the provision here. “Second, the absurdity of this whole affair demonstrates once again that caucuses are outdated, idiotic, immoral and inefficient ways of choosing the leader of the free world. They should be abolished and replaced with primaries. Now, if Adelson would give a few million dollars to that cause, it might turn out to be a better investment than the Gingrich campaign.,” said Ben Adler in The Nation.
Will Israel attack Iran?
Israeli leaders have stepped up the rhetoric that they’re prepared to take action against Iran, if necessary. “If Israel is going to gamble so much on a strike, it should play for large stakes. The Islamic Republic means to destroy Israel. If Israel means to survive, it should commit itself similarly,” said Bret Stephens in The Wall Street Journal. “Destroying Iran’s nuclear sites will be a short-lived victory if it isn’t matched to the broader goal of ending the regime.” Is war the only way? wondered Peter Beinart in The Daily Beast: “American Jews have long basked in the wartime prowess of Israel’s soldiers and spies. Perhaps it’s time we started admiring their aversion to war as well.”
Eddie Long: Live the king?
Bishop Eddie Long apologized for a video of him being draped with a tallis and holding a Torah scroll and being crowned “king.” “The ceremony was not my suggestion, nor was it my intent, to participate in any ritual that is offensive in any manner to the Jewish community, or any group. Furthermore, I sincerely denounce any action that depicts me as a King, for I am merely just a servant of the Lord,” Long wrote in a letter. “But if the ceremony was to acknowledge Long as a figurative king or a symbolic king, it has left many questioning what actually occurred at the megachurch,” said Norman Byrd at Huliq. Others were less amused. “Eddie Long’s continued pandering to keep the remnants of his deluded flock intact has no bounds,” said Anthea Butler at Religion Dispatches.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach declared his intent to run for Congress in New Jersey’s 9th District, according to JTA. He said he’ll decide in the coming months whether to follow through with it, once he’s assessed how much money he can raise for his cause. “Why would a rabbi run for Congress? Because the problems we’re seeing in our great nation are not caused by an economic downturn but by a values erosion, and I intend to be the values voice that Congress so desperately needs,” Boteach said in a Jerusalem Post editorial. But has has his opponents. “Lost in all of this rhetoric is humility (also a Jewish value), a recognition of complexity (that too), and a tolerance for the multiplicity of interpretation of tradition and values (ditto) as to what constitutes a fair reading of Jewish tradition,” argued Yehuda Kurtzer, also in the Jerusalem Post.