November 8, 2007
Rabin memorial rally draws 100,000, Coulter controversy escalates
More than 100,000 people rallied in memory of Yitzhak Rabin in Tel Aviv. An unusually large demonstration, marking 12 years since the former Israeli prime minister's assassination, drew people to Rabin Square last Saturday night for the annual event.
Commentators suggested that public interest in preserving Rabin's legacy has been boosted by the prospect of a resumption in the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks that he launched in the early 1990s.
"Rabin's way will prevail," Defense Minister Ehud Barak told the crowd.
Many Israeli left-wingers also want to counteract the spread of sympathy for Rabin's imprisoned assassin, Yigal Amir. Polls show that a growing number of rightists would seek clemency for Amir who, though sentenced to life in prison, has had conjugal visits and started a family. Amir's first child, a son, was to be circumcised in a jailhouse ceremony last Sunday. The assassin earlier failed to win Supreme Court permission to conduct the circumcision with relatives outside.
Coulter Escalates War of Words With Jewish Groups
Ann Coulter escalated her war of words with Jewish groups. In a Nov. 1 column, the conservative pundit blasted the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) for condemning her earlier remarks suggesting that Jews would be "perfected" by Christianity.
Coulter suggested the ADL was soft on Iran and Islamist extremists.
"The ADL is more concerned with what it calls the 'neo-Nazis' and 'anti-Semites' in the Minutemen organization," she wrote, referring to an anti-illegal immigrant group that has drawn support from right-wing extremists, "than with people who behead Jews whenever they get half a chance." The ADL is at the forefront of lobbying for tougher anti-Iran sanctions and monitoring pro-terrorist activity.
She also blasted the ADL for defending Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), the first Muslim in Congress, for taking his oath on a Quran instead of a Bible.
"Do they have Ellison on the record acknowledging whether the Holocaust happened?" she wrote.
Ellison joined resolutions in the Minnesota Legislature condemning Holocaust denial and attended Holocaust commemorations.
ADL dismissed the column as "little more than a desperate attempt to deflect attention from her own bigoted and hateful views and her mistake in giving vent to anti-Semitism on a national cable broadcast."
The National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) renewed its call on broadcast networks to stop using Coulter, dismissing her claims that she is a true defender of Jewish interests.
"Jews for Coulter?," Ira Forman, the NJDC's executive director said in a statement. "You could hold that convention in the backseat of a Volkswagen Bug."
Interim Steinhardt Foundation Head Named
Robert Aronson has been named the acting president of Michael Steinhardt's Foundation for Jewish Life.
Aronson, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit, had become a consultant to Steinhardt in recent years, most recently working on the philanthropist's Areivim project, a $100 million fund to transform Jewish education. Aronson replaces Rabbi Irving "Yitz" Greenberg, who left the foundation -- then called the Jewish Life Network -- in the spring amid some acrimony.
Steinhardt, the ex-hedge fund maven, has given away some $125 million to Jewish causes since 1994, most notably helping to found Birthright Israel and the Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education. In an interview with JTA last summer, Steinhardt said that aside from funding for Birthright, he thought that most of the money spent on projects during Greenberg's tenure had been wasted.
Steinhardt said that going forward he wants to focus the bulk of his energy and resources on follow-up programs for young adults upon their return from Birthright trips, the Areivim fund, and early childhood and informal education initiatives.
Briefs courtesy of Jewish Telegraphic Agency.