A roundup of the most talked about political and global stories in the Jewish world this week:
Rahimi stirs the pot
Iran’s Vice President Mohammad-Reza Rahimi gave an anti-Semitic speech on Tuesday at a conference that stated, among other things, that the Talmud was connected to the spread of illegal drugs. It only deepened animosity between other countries and Iran. “Rahimi’s speech is yet another warning that any diplomat tasked with negotiating with the Islamist regime has been sent on a fool’s errand,” said Jonathan S. Tobin at Commentary. Alan Dershowitz sounded off at Newsmax saying, “I am not seeking to constrain freedom of expression through governmental censorship. I am asking people of good will to condemn all anti-Jewish bigotry even when expressed by those who are admired, and to take action against the danger posed by the noxious combination of radioactive words and radioactive weapons.”
New Egyptian leader
What does Mohamed Morsi’s victory mean for Israel and the Mideast? In his first speech, he said that he intends to “preserve international accords and obligations” and would act on behalf of all Egyptian citizens, and in their best interests. “There is no doubt about it: This Morsi is not only bad for Israel, he is mostly bad for his countrymen,” said Amos Shavit at YnetNews. “Indeed, if Morsi is a product of the Arab Spring, the Middle East can expect many more difficult years to come.” What Israeli can do is stay off the radar, advised The Jewish Week: “Wisely, Israel has kept a low profile for now, emphasizing its desire for peace. But change is coming to Egypt, and it is sure to be a rocky path, either on the road to a military regime, an Iran-like government ruled by Islamic law or, we hope, to wider democracy.” But not everyone agrees that this is such a bad thing. “It is time they use their economic and political leverage to help Egypt in its transition from anarchy and corruption to a fully-fledged democracy, for the interest not only of Egypt but for a better Middle East,” said Dr. Muhammad Abdul Bari at The Huffington Post.
A German court decided that circumcision is a criminal offense. The ruling has upset both Jews and Muslims alike, causes bodily harm and therefore is a crime, a Cologne court ruled. It comes after a four-year-old boy died after a circumcision had been performed on him. Arguing about the medical risks is tough, said Jonathan Kay at the National Post. “Groups that historically have suffered from a high incidence of medically destructive promiscuity. Among other male populations, including North American heterosexuals, there is still no proof that routine circumcision would have any impact on AIDS rates.” And besides, said Jason Kuznicki at The League of Ordinary Gentlemen, “You can’t just go up to Judaism and start ripping pages out of it. Circumcision is another one of those issues where theory remakes the world, but practice lags behind.”
The woman behind the popular Atlas Shrugged blog had her event at the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles halted at the last minute after the organization “cravenly submitted to Islamic supremacists who wanted to suppress free speech,” said Pamela Geller afterward. “No community can control or be responsible for individual voices of bigotry. However, organizations that represent communities do have a greater responsibility to do everything that they can not to provide a platform for such bigotry,” said Sheila Musaji at The American Muslim. “Free speech rightfully protects even conspiratorial haters to exploit fears from stereotypes, and animus from half truths,” said Brian Levin at The Huffington Post. “It also requires that people of good will completely repudiate such contemptible manifestations of Islamophobia in the strongest terms possible.”
Jewish award announced
A $1 million annual award called the Genesis Prize for excellence in upholding Jewish values was announced this week with ties between the Israeli government and Russian donors. “It’s just one of the signs of the good relations between Israel and Russia in general,” said one official. “We can say a lot of things about the present-day government, but one thing we can tell for sure is they are not anti-Semites.” Many people praised the award for demonstrating strong ties between the two countries. “I am not Russian – but am proud to be on the board of RAJE (and our President is also not Russian – he’s just a proud Jew) – and the facts remain that Jews from the former Soviet Union have to be reconnected with their Heritage and the wider Jewish community, and so few are focused on it,” said Ronn Torossian at Jewocity.