The Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) has long provided one of precious few forums for Jews from across the political and religious spectrum to come together and debate the great issues of the day. But at last week's JCPA plenum in Washington, there was a palpable chill when it came to debate on some controversial issues.
All of this comes to mind in the face of this week's effort by the Palestinians to generate anti-Israel resolutions in the General Assembly in response to the recent ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) -- the judicial but injudicious arm of the United Nations -- that Israel's controversial new security barrier is illegal and must be torn down.
This masterfully crafted film deals with a troubling event and could lead to trouble.
The Florida case of a woman on life support for 13 years has put issues of how we die and when and how doctors and others should intervene on the front page. Whatever the courts say about that case, however, will only apply to federal and Florida law.
What would Jewish law say about such a case? That question is important because the issues raised in that case confront Jews often as they care for their parents, spouse and other loved ones and as they contemplate their own dying process.
The basic Jewish principle about these matters is clear: We are, on the one hand, not allowed to hasten the dying process, but on the other, we are not supposed to prolong it either.
Movie studios release very few historical or period films each year, much less a film like "The Passion," which is in Aramaic and Latin with subtitles.
"Divine Intervention" has been embraced by European and most American critics as a brilliant absurdist comedy, recalling the style of French director Jacques Tati, and the silent movie performances of Buster Keaton and the early Charlie Chaplin.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is vowing to step up targeted killings of suspected Palestinian terrorists. Israel's practice of targeted killings is not new, but Sharon's statements again threw a spotlight on the controversial policy.
He made the comment following a terror attack Dec. 27 at a West Bank yeshiva, in which four students were killed and 10 others wounded. Reflecting the odd vagaries of Middle East politics, his vow also came as Israeli and Palestinian officials began reviewing the latest draft of a U.S. "road map" for achieving peace in the region.
The highly controversial French documentary film, "Terrorists in Retirement," offers a striking revelation that, on reflection, should come as no surprise at all -- Eastern European Jews played a prominent role in the most daring exploits of the World War II French resistance movement. This truth comes as a jolt only because French popular myth and official histories have so thoroughly suppressed it, considering it harmful to the nation's heritage to admit that stateless immigrants, facing deportation and almost certain death, fought harder for France's freedom than did many citizens who were content to collaborate with their German conquerors.
When Bernard Rose first met superagent Jay Moloney, the inspiration for his controversial new film, "ivansxtc," he was a hot young director courted by every agent in town. "I was staying at the Mondrian, and gifts would suddenly appear in my room," says the 41-year-old Jewish Brit, who had just made an acclaimed 1988 drama, "Paperhouse."
"Hitler's Jewish Soldiers: The Untold Story of Nazi Racial Laws and the Men of Jewish Descent in the German Military" by Bryan Mark Rigg (University Press of Kansas, $29.95).
Bryan Mark Rigg's most controversial assertion is "Hitler's Jewish Soldiers'" least relevant matter. In a complicated opening chapter, he claims that 150,000 individuals (almost exclusively male) served in the German military who were, by Nazi racial standards and laws, Jews of some quantity. By his calculations, perhaps as many as 6,000 "full" Jews (with four Jewish grandparents) were in the Wehrmacht -- but the greater number comes, of course, from the highly assimilated, aggressively nationalistic, and thoroughly acculturated "quarter" and "half" Jews, those with one or two Jewish grandparents, respectively. (The mathematics is darkly amusing: two half-Jewish parents make up one half-Jewish child.)
Opponents of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) East-West Transit Corridor, which was approved by the MTA in February, filed a lawsuit April 2 challenging the MTA's Environmental Impact Report (EIR), alleging that the report "understated the serious effects of the busway on Valley residents and ignored alternative transit projects that could have avoided these effects."
The controversial busway is slated to run along a 14-mile route through neighborhoods from Warner Center in Woodland Hills to the Metro Red Line subway station in North Hollywood. Supporters say it is a necessary and welcome means of improving mass transit. Opponents contend that the estimated $330 million project is too dangerous and expensive and that expanding the MTA's popular Metro Rapid Bus service would provide almost as many buses at 10 percent of the cost and with far fewer safety concerns.
Did you hear the one about the rabbi, the porn star and the adult magazine editor? They don't walk into a bar, they walk into a synagogue.
If Todd Solondz had to switch to an unlisted telephone number after the release of "Happiness," he may have to move to Alaska in the aftermath of his latest film, "Storytelling," now in theaters.