Bintel Blog

Israel Searches for a Hero, Spiderman Will Do

By Nathan Jeffay

It’s just days after the general election, and Likud and Kadima are at it again — arguing over the issue of territory.

But if you’re getting the impression that the two parties have stopped bickering over who won the election and started talking about Israel’s peacemaking policy, you are mistaken. Instead, think teen movies and specifically the turf wars over who gets the best table in the cafeteria.

This territorial debate going on in Knesset concerns the “sovereignty” of the largest (and on the authority of Knesset insiders comfiest) conference room.

This room goes to the party leading the government, but with two parties claiming they will lead the government, there has been a clash. Kadima is so insistent that it has dibs on the room that it reportedly stopped Likud from holding a meeting there. Likud says its ranks grew so much as a result of the election that it members can’t possibly fit in a smaller room anymore.


At times of political paralysis like these, Israel is in need of somebody to look up to, a unifying figure, a national hero, if you will. Well for a few minutes on Sunday night, it not only got a hero but a superhero.

Dozens of drivers near Rosh Ha’ayin, called police to notify them there was a man dressed as Spiderman jumping from car to car wielding ropes that were apparently meant as a substitute for a web. Police arrested the man, but say that he has still not managed to explain why he was wearing a Spiderman outfit.


Equally mysterious is how Tel Aviv municipality managed to send out a letter to a resident calling her a bitch. “Mrs. Cohen the bitch,” began a letter to Na’ama Cohen who wrote to the municipality disputing some parking fines.

According to reports in the Tel Aviv media, the municipality described the letter as a “regrettable mistake” and promised to apologize to Mrs. Cohen and send her flowers. There was no information on wording for the card accompanying the flowers.

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The Jewish Sandman

By Daniel Treiman

The Forward has earned a reputation for uncovering the Jewish ancestry of figures both real and fictional. Comics, in particular, have been a rewarding realm of inquiry: My friend and former colleague Max Gross outed The Thing, while executive editor Ami Eden discovered an uncanny Jewish X-Men connection.

So it was only natural that we’d turn our attention to Spiderman, who has been slinging webs across the silver screen for the past few weeks. Spidey’s creator, Stan Lee, is well known to be a member of tribe. But is his most famous superhero Jewish, too?

Rabbi Simcha Weinstein, author of “Up, Up, And Oy Vey! How Jewish History, Culture and Values Shaped the Comic Book Superhero,” is ready to make the case. “Peter Parker’s a nerd who grew up in Forest Hills, his middle name is Benjamin and he’s motivated by guilt…I see a connection,” the rabbi told the Park Slope Courier.

Forgive me, rabbi, if I’m not convinced.

A little Web research, however, did yield a discovery of Jewish ancestry for the Sandman. Alas, it’s the wrong Sandman: not the wall-crawler’s nemesis from “Spiderman 3,” but rather an obscure 1940s DC Comics superhero — a “mystery man,” in the parlance of the times.

This Sandman, whose mother it seems was Jewish and father Catholic, apparently had no superpowers, but rather wielded “an exotic ‘gas gun’ that could compel villains to tell the truth, as well as put them to sleep,” according to Wikipedia.

Also, according to Wikipedia: “Unlike many superheroes, he frequently found himself the victim of gunshot wounds.” In other words, a real shlimazl of a superhero! In one comic book, he is reported to have come to the rescue of Rabbi Isaac Glickman. So it seems that this Sandman also happens to be something of a mensch!

UPDATE: Apparently, I’m not the only one who thinks Peter Parker seems a little Wasp-y. Reader Arieh Lebowitz helpfully forwarded a link to a Web page on Spiderman’s religion from Adherents.com (the same site that provided the information on the religious affiliations of the Sandman and The Thing.)



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