A roundup of the most talked about political and global stories in the Jewish world this week:
Seth MacFarlane may not have been the best host the Academy Awards ever had, but, boy, was he a controversial one. On Sunday night, the "Family Guy" creator took the stage and hurled zingers in every which direction. The ones aimed at Jews and Hollywood stereotypes hit hard among Jewish groups. "While we have come to expect inappropriate 'Jews control Hollywood' jokes from Seth MacFarlane, what he did at the Oscars was offensive and not remotely funny," said Abraham Foxman, ADL director. He insulted nearly everyone, said Peter Dreier at JTA. "As a progressive and a Jew, I found the comments outrageous, and I'm confident that many of the millions of Americans watching the show on TV also were offended by the bigoted stereotypes about women, gays, Latinas and Jews." Still, MacFarlane had his defenders. "Maybe the outrage arises because Jews are still uncomfortable with the notion of being powerful. But here's the fact: Jews are disproportionately represented in Hollywood," said the Jewish Journal's Rob Eshman. It's time to get with the program.
The Senate approved Sen. Chuck Hagel as the new secretary of defense despite strong opposition from both Democratic and Republican politiicans and some Jewish groups over his past comments that “the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people” in Washington. The protests did have an impact -- 41 people voted against him, the highest number ever for a new U.S. defense secretary. The process was worth it, said the Wall Street Journal in an op-ed. "We doubt Republicans will get much media credit for sticking with their principle of allowing a vote on a President's Cabinet choices, and Democrats aren't likely to do the same favor to the next GOP President. But Republicans performed an important service by giving the nominee the vetting he deserved and the public needed to hear. Good luck, Mr. Secretary."
Are Israel's elections corrupt? That's what Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett charges after he publicly denounced his party for its actions during the recent campaign. Bennett says that during primary elections, MK Nissan Slomiansky allegedly bought votes, and that the police are investigating the matter. It centers around the disqualification of thousands of illegitimate registrants to the party, who either didn’t exist or were still registered as members with other parties. Slomiansky maintains he did nothing wrong and called these charges pure gossip stemming from political rivalries.
The holiday of Purim last weekend sparked some to consider what the holiday means in our times. "I often ask myself how would this whole splendid scenario would play in Mea She’arim or Bnei Brak? Jewish girl is taken by non-Jewish ruler, lives with him and has a child by him. Would that union be celebrated? Does the end justify the means?" asked Stewart Weiss in The Jerusalem Post. It leaves us with an important lesson about getting along with our partners, said Deborah Rosenbloom at The Huffington Post. "Among the keys for a healthy relationship are developing a strong voice, which includes a positive self-identity and an identification with something larger than ourselves -- a community or cause; presenting ourselves in a manner that shows confidence; and striving for parity in which we balance the power of each partner in a couple relationship."
Hikind's Purim flap
New York state assemblyman and Orthodox Jew Dov Hikind apologized on Monday after images of him in a costume that included blackface and an Afro wig turned up over the weekend. Hikind justified it as in the spirit of Purim, but acknowledged that it rubbed some people the wrong way. "It was not meant to offend anybody, it was not meant to hurt anybody. I'm sorry that anyone was," Hikind said. "Maybe so. But we have a right to expect our public officials to have more sense than that, even when it’s Purim," said Eleanor Randolph at The New York Times. Blackface is never a good idea, said The New Yorker's Rebecca Mead, and Hikind should have known that. "That Hikind, a thirty-year veteran of the Assembly, might not have been aware until this week of the ugly history of blackface is as good an argument as any for the necessity of term limits within that body," Mead argued.