Israeli media, quoting government sources in Jerusalem, say the controversial cancellation of the Egyptian-Israeli natural gas agreement is not diplomatic in nature, but rather has to do with a commercial dispute between private companies and the Egyptian state energy company that is currently before the courts. Globes, the authoritative Israeli business journal, reports (in Hebrew) that a senior Egyptian military source told an Egyptian television station “that the deal was not canceled but suspended because of unpaid funds.”
Globes also quotes a report from “Arab media” in which Hani Dahi, chairman of the Egyptian National Gas Company:
made clear that the decision has no diplomatic background or impact – but was taken solely for economic and commercial considerations. “The Israeli gas companies have not upheld their financial commitments for months,” he told Egyptian media.
“We have asked Israel more than once to pay the money in arrears, and it has not done so,” Dahi clarified. “Neither the military council nor the government had any part in this decision.” Likewise Muhammad Shu’eib, the chairman of the Egyptian gas company EGAS, announced this evening that it was Israel that had not met its commitments in the gas agreement between the countries.
Having retired from the Passover-cleaning and Seder-making business, my in-laws have, in recent years, chosen to spend the holiday at a hotel abroad, every year at a different destination. My husband and I packed up our three kids this year and joined them for 10 days of matzoh-eating and sightseeing in Provence.
Since the holiday ended on a Friday, those who observe Shabbat were ‘stuck’ abroad till Saturday night, April 15.
While on vacation, I spotted the date of our return flight in web headline. What? More than 1,000 pro-Palestinian activists planning to fly into Ben-Gurion airport for a mass protest on April 15, of all days? Uh-oh.
As I read on about the steps Israel was taking to prevent the activists from flying, my trepidation mounted. I envisioned delayed or cancelled flights. I wondered what these activists were thinking when they chose that date. The planes would be full of Israeli families like ours: kids and their exhausted parents after long vacations in close quarters. I was thinking that after a few hours of the noise and chaos they might want to parachute out of the plane and abandon their campaign.
The Forward took home three awards for multimedia as well as honors for best overall print design Thursday night in the Ippies contest sponsored by the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.
The annual Ippies competition pays tribute to excellence in journalism in the ethnic and community press in the New York City area.
Nate Lavey, the Forward’s digital media producer, won both first- and second-place honors in the best video category. He won the top video prize for “Living Apart in Crown Heights,” in which he combined contemporary images and interviews and historical photos to tell the story of the racial tensions that led to the riots and how the neighborhood is faring today.
He won a second-place video award for “Naming Mushky,” the story of thousands of girls in the worldwide Lubavitch Hasidic community who were named after Chaya Mushka Schneerson, the late wife of the Lubavitcher rebbe.
The paper’s art director, Kurt Hoffman, received a first-place award for best overall design of a print publication.
Second-place honors went to Gabrielle Birkner, director of digital media, for overall design of an online publication. Gal Beckerman, opinion editor, won a second-place award for multimedia package for “Crown Heights, 20 Years Later.” Beckerman edited a combination of news stories, opinion pieces, the video and a photo slideshow on the Crown Heights anniversary.
The Ippies Awards were judged by faculty and adjuncts at the City University of New York’s Graduate School of Journalism and other professional journalists. This year, the competition attracted 240 entries across 10 categories from 46 community and ethnic news organizations. The first-place awards carried prizes ranging from $750 to $1,500.
The ceremony was held at the CUNY journalism school. Veteran TV broadcaster Connie Chung delivered the keynote remarks. Errol Louis, host of NY1’s “Inside City Hall,” was the emcee. In keeping with the theme of the night, foods from India, Haiti, Senegal, France and China were served at a pre-awards reception.
Irving Moskowitz, a major donor to Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, has given $1 million to the Karl Rove-linked Republican super PAC American Crossroads.
The donation, made in mid-February, was the subject of a lengthy Huffington Post report published April 12.
Moskowitz, 83, is best known for funding efforts to establish Jewish settlements in Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem. In January 2011 he ignited worldwide controversy by demolishing an iconic East Jerusalem hotel he owned in order to make way for Jewish housing.
Moskowitz made his fortune operating a casino and bingo hall in Hawaiian Gardens, Calif. In 2004 he was the subject of a grand jury inquiry into allegations of business improprieties.
The American Crossroads donation is by far Moskowitz’s biggest political intervention in the United States. He has, however, been active as a Republican donor, and has been a supporter of Florida Republican congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a prominent hawk on Middle East issues.
Moskowitz himself has kept a low profile in recent years. His wife Cherna Moskowitz appears to have taken the reins of his foundation.
American Crossroards has raised $22 million and spent $4 million in the current election cycle. Its ads have mostly targeted House Democrats, and the group began running television advertisements in swing states targeting President Obama early this week.
Armed with a $200,000 donation from a son of George Soros, the pro-Obama Jewish group that behind The Great Schlep is posed to play a major role this election cycle.
The group, called the Jewish Council for Education and Research, ran a high-profile campaign to send young Jews to lobby their grandparents to vote for Obama in 2008. Now a super PAC, the organization has raised nearly as much so far this cycle as they raised in the entire 2008 campaign.
“We were able to do a lot last time,” said Mik Moore, treasurer of the group, officially known as the Jewish Council for Education and Research. “But there was a lot we didn’t do, and we’re starting a lot earlier.”
In recent weeks, the group received a $200,000 donation from Alexander Soros, the 26-year-old son of the billionaire hedge fund magnate and progressive philanthropist George Soros. Moore said that the group hoped to raise $1 million by the end of the election cycle.
Jewish support for Democrats was high in 2008, with 78% of Jewish voters casting their ballots for Obama. Republican group have already committed significant resources to winning away some of that support, especially in key swing states like Florida. Moore’s group is part of the Democrats’ effort to push back.
This Weekend’s New York Times Magazine brings an interesting story about the seemingly bulletproof business model behind American matzo manufacturing. The problem is that it omits a key ingredient in the global matzo marketplace: Israel.
Every year for one week, about 2% of the U.S. population is forced to buy matzo, says writer Adam Davidson. Because kosher food production is costly and complex and requires knowledge of Jewish law, it’s almost impossible for big U.S. companies, such as Kraft and Sara Lee, to compete.
“As long as they don’t change Passover, we have built-in sales,” Aron Yagoda, co-vice president of the Lower East Side matzo manufacturer Streit’s, tells the Times.
But as the Forward reported on April 6 Streit’s built-in sales are crumbling.
With Rick Santroum’s exit from the presidential race, Jewish supporters of the conservative candidate say that they’re ready to back his onetime rival Mitt Romney.
“We’re happy he stayed in as long as he did,” said David Shor, creator of the website Jews Pick Rick. “We’re going to unite behind Mitt Romney and hopefully we’ll be able to beat Obama in the general election.”
Always a dark horse, Santorum enjoyed a moment of plausibility as a candidate in March as the Republican field narrowed. His exit appears to make official what had long been presumed: Romney will eventually face Obama in the general election.
Though he was considered a favorite of Christian conservatives, Santorum enjoyed particular support among Orthodox Jews, as Forward reported in late March. Orthodox supporters pointed to Santorum’s focus on social issues, and on a personal life that resembled their own.
“I’m sure they’ll go to Romney,” Shor said of his fellow Orthodox Jewish Santorum supporters. “I don’t think [Obama] will be able to get the Jewish Orthodox vote.”
Other Santorum supporters were upset at the news.
Jon Stewart delivered an inspired rant last night comparing the charms of Easter vs. Passover. The key line: “As a father of mixed-faith children who are exposed to both holidays, I can’t help but feel that we Jews are getting our asses kicked out here.”
Some other key lines:
Hey, five-year-olds: A basket filled with candy and jelly beans — or horseradish, still in root form? Would you like the treats a magical bunny brought you — or a bone from a dead baby lamb? Don’t worry — we used its blood to mark the door…
Mishpoche, we gotta take it up a notch. They’re crushing us. I’m not saying we lose our traditions. We gotta adapt it, with a slight nod towards recruitment. I’m not saying we gotta go Jehovah’s Witnesses on this thing. But what’s wrong with a little zazz? Thinking outside the box? We’ve got a great story here. Moses parting the Red Sea? How have we not turned that into a water park?
David Carr’s insightful column about the resurgence of newspaper barons struck home for two reasons.
The first, of course, was what prompted Carr to write it: the most recent sale of The Philadelphia Inquirer, my journalistic home for 25 years. When I return to Philadelphia, which I do now with less and less frequency, I’m startled by how thin and wan the newspaper has become, looking like a patient with the kind of illness that saps the body of weight, strength and vitality.
Yet more than once, especially upon reading another stellar investigative story, I have also been reminded of the determination of so many of my former colleagues to maintain the quality and the mission of the enterprise — an enterprise Philadelphia desperately needs and deserves.
It isn’t news that American Jews overwhelmingly support legalizing gay marriage. But a new survey out today puts that level of support at 81%, a few notches higher than previous polls.
An older survey conducted last May by the same polling group, the Public Religion Research Institute, pegged American Jewish support for same-sex marriage at 76%.
About half of all Americans support same-sex marriage.
“I was struck that the numbers were that high nationally, but I’m not shocked by them,” said Idit Klein, executive director of Keshet, a gay and lesbian Jewish advocacy group, said of the new survey.
Marriages between gay and lesbian Jews are increasingly accepted by Jewish religious groups. Reform Judaism officially announced its support for gay marriage 1990s, and Conservative Judaism in 2006. No Orthodox groups accept same sex marriage, though the issue of homosexuality has been the subject of increased debate among the Modern Orthodox.
An annual ranking of the top 25 hedge fund earners brings a bit of bad news for Mitt Romney’s super PAC: A few of the super PAC’s top donors have fallen from the list.
A March Forward report counted a dozen Jews among those who had given $100,000 or more to Restore our Future, the pro-Romney super PAC. Roughly half the Jewish donors are hedge fund managers, a proportion broadly reflective of the general makeup of major donors to the committee.
The new earnings list, published late last week by the hedge fund magazine Absolute Return + Alpha, ranks the top 25 hedge fund managers by their personal earnings in 2011. Paychecks across the board were down from 2010, but some managers were hurt more than others.
Three of Romney’s top Jewish donors are among the hardest hit.
If Tzipi Livni’s defeat in the Kadima leadership contest results in her diminution in Israeli public life, then Shaul Mofaz’s victory will prove to be entirely Pyrrhic. If Livni merely heads towards the door marked exit and retires from public life, Israel’s domestic scene and the international community will be all the poorer for it, for Livni is a first-rate politician whose intellect and vision for her country is equal only to her striking beauty and grace.
It is not unreasonable to place her philosophically in a line of Israeli leaders which runs from David Ben-Gurion through Yitzhak Rabin and Ariel Sharon, who came to the necessary conclusion that in order to secure a Jewish and democratic state for future generations, Israel would have to relinquish lands gained in war beyond the Green Line, and forge some kind of peace with the Palestinian leadership.
“The dispute,” Livni remarked on the anniversary of Rabin’s assassination, “is around the question of whether you can have it both ways – maintaining Israel as a Jewish state and keeping the entire Land of Israel”. The answer, she concluded, is that you can’t.
Her flaw, and what may indeed have resulted in her defeat to Mofaz, is that once the decision was made to take Kadima into opposition as opposed to coalition with Likud in 2009, she appeared lacking when it came to articulating a powerful and gripping counter-narrative to the more hard-line stance Benjamin Netanyahu has adopted towards both the Palestinians and Iran. Whilst Livni remains popular amongst the international community and in particular within the U.S. State Department, at home recent polling data before the primary showed that though Likud would stand to gain seats in the next election, Kadima under Livni would see their chunk of seats in the Knesset slashed in half.
Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, whose family has given a “Super PAC” backing Newt Gingrich’s candidacy some $15 million, told the Jewish Journal, of Los Angeles, that the former House Speaker is “at the end of his line.”
Reading between the lines, it seems that Adelson might be ready to throw his (very reluctant) support behind Mitt Romney, whom the Las Vegas Sands chief executive said he “has spoken to many, many, many times, as recently as when he was here in Vegas for the caucuses.” Whether or not he’ll kick down millions for the former Massachusetts governor ‘s cause may be a different story.
That’s because he said Romney is “not the bold decision-maker like Newt Gingrich is,” and said he is risk-averse, “like Obama. “
But his criticism did not preclude some form of future support, as his remarks about Rick Santorum seemed to. Adelson said unequivocally that he doesn’t want Santorum “running my country,” and that the former Pennsylvania senator was too socially conservative for his taste.
“I’m what you might call a social liberal,” the billionaire businessman said.
Though Adelson, a close ally of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has long been betting on Gingrich — whom he said isn’t afraid to use words like ‘Islamo-fascism’ or ‘Islamo-terrorists’ when that’s what they are” — he acknowledged that the former House Speaker, “mathematically can’t get anywhere near his numbers, and there’s unlikely to be a brokered convention.”
The results of the elections for leadership of the Kadima party are in and Shaul Mofaz has won a decisive victory over Tzipi Livni. With 100% of the votes counted, Mofaz won 61.5 percent to Livni’s 38.5 percent. Ouch.
There was nothing really for Livni to say as she stood in front of her supporters on Tuesday night besides, “These are elections, and these are the results.”
The big mystery at this point is whether Mofaz intends to join Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, as Livni was never willing to do — and whether Netanyahu would have him
To hear Mofaz on Tuesday, he has no plans to accept any portfolio besides prime minister: “I intend to win the general elections and bring Netanyahu down. Our country deserves a new social agenda, a different government system, equality of civic duties, and more serious attempts to achieve peace in our region.”
But there have been comments from other Kadima members that Mofaz wouldn’t mind ousting Avigdor Lieberman as foreign minister.
We will have to wait and see. What is sure is that Mofaz is now emerging as a serious political player, and we’ll be eager to learn a little more about him and his core principles. On the biographical front, we know that he was born in Iran in 1948 and is married with four children. He jumped into politics in 2002 after a long military career. Haaretz has a brief bio here. Surely, there will be more in the coming days and months.
In 2008, billionaire media mogul David Geffen was among Barack Obama’s most visible Hollywood supporters. A top-level fundraiser for the Obama campaign, Geffen hosted major Hollywood events and launched a tide-turning media attack against primary opponent Hillary Clinton.
In 2012, he’s all but absent from the political landscape.
Sure, Geffen has given the maximum allowable personal donation of a few thousand dollars to the Obama campaign, but that’s not saying much in the age of the super PAC. Unlike fellow Dreamworks founder Jeffrey Katzenberg, Geffen is missing from Obama’s list of bundlers and his list of super PAC donors.
Geffen is the only top-tier Jewish 2008 bundler for Obama who is not bundling in 2012, excluding those currently working for the federal government.
Geffen’s reduced role this cycle is puzzling. And though it hasn’t entirely been explained by Geffen’s office, it appears to coincide with his relative withdrawal from public life since 2008.
Queens Rep. Gary Ackerman isn’t running for reelection, and the Queens Tribune seemed to be the only media outlet that knew why.
A column, penned by Tribune publisher Michael Schenkler, reported that Ackerman had signed on as a managing partner of a group of investors that had reached a deal to buy the New York Mets from the Wilpon family.
It sounded like a plausible explanation for Ackerman’s surprising decision to retire from Congress, and an interesting twist in the tale of the Wilpons, who lost big in the Bernie Madoff scam.
Or so I thought. At an overwrought editor’s urging, I started looking into the report.
It seemed a little strange that the paper posted the piece Thursday, yet no other media outlets had picked it up. Maybe no one has the Queens Tribune on their Google alerts, I thought.
I was halfway through putting out a round of phone calls when I found out the truth: It was all a (very) pre-April Fools Day joke.
The foreign policy chief of the European Union, Catherine Ashton, is under furious attack for a speech she gave March 19, several hours after the deadly shootings at the Ozar Hatorah school in Toulouse, in which she mentioned the Toulouse attack and deaths of Palestinian youths in Gaza in the same sentence.
First Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, called the supposed analogy “inappropriate.” Then others piled on: Defense Minister Ehud Barak called her words “outrageous.” Interior Minister Eli Yishai demanded she resign. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized her more indirectly, just before a meeting with French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe, who had flown to Israel for the funerals of the Toulouse victims. The Anti-Defamation League expressed “outrage.” The American Jewish Committee expressed “profound dismay.” For a more detailed critique, here’s Middle East scholar (and my old high school chum) Barry Rubin, dissecting what’s wrong.
Actually, what’s wrong is the false notion that Ashton’s words were, as Barry puts it, “a statement” issued “in response to the Toulouse shooting.” They were nothing of the sort. As I write in my latest Forward column, she was delivering the keynote address at a U.N.-E.U. conference on the challenges facing Palestinian refugee youth. She concluded with a sad litany of unrelated tragedies around the world that clearly share nothing except that young people die. Here’s the video of the speech.
How did everyone get it so wrong?
A Jewish fundraiser for Mitt Romney says she turned against President Obama over his 2011 call for Israel to return to 1967 borders with mutually agreed land swaps, the Washington Post reported.
The bundler, Susan Crown, is a descendant of the now-deceased Henry Crown, a billionaire investor who once owned the Empire State Building.
Crown gave $2,300 to Barack Obama’s campaign in 2007. She does not appear on a list of volunteer fundraisers, or bundlers, for the Obama 2008 campaign. The Romney campaign has released no information on its fundraisers, so it’s impossible to know how much she has raised in this cycle.
“There are a lot of people here who are very disappointed in the president,” Crown told the Post. “I’m an independent and I’m working as hard as I can for Mitt.”
Last year, Israeli adult film star and newly-minted right wing activist Michael Lucas used his financial clout to bar an anti-Israel group from meeting at New York’s LGBT Center. I was one of many who protested: LGBT community centers are meant for the entire community, including groups with whom we may disagree.
But in case we needed a lesson that intolerance exists on the Left as well as the Right, a reciprocal outrage took place last week in Seattle. There, an anti-Israel LGBT activist pressured the city of Seattle’s LGBT Commission to cancel an event featuring three LGBT activists from Israel, scheduled for March 16 at City Hall. I write to protest this action as well. It is unconscionable, reprehensible, and ignorant. And the fact that it was undertaken in the name of fighting oppression, led by transgender activist Dean Spade, makes it even worse.
There are some differences between the two cases. First, the Seattle LGBT Commission’s meeting was in City Hall, not an LGBT community center, and thus conveys a higher level of endorsement of the program’s views. On the other hand, unlike the Siegebusters/Queers Against Israeli Apartheid meeting in New York, this program had absolutely nothing to do with the Israel/Palestine conflict. In fact, I happen to know some of the intended speakers personally, and they happen to hold quite left-wing views on that conflict. This program — one of many coordinated by the American organization A Wider Bridge, seeking to unite LGBT Jews and Israel — was purely about the struggles and successes LGBT people have faced inside green-line Israel.
If you weren’t on Facebook this weekend, then you probably missed a huge love fest going on between Israelis and Iranians. As would be expected, the governments of the two countries were not proclaiming their undying devotion to one another. Rather, it was ordinary Israeli and Iranian citizens who were expressing mutual admiration and a hope that war between their two nations can be avoided.
It’s amazing how quickly good will and gestures of solidarity can spread in the Internet age, even between peoples who generally have nothing to do with one another. On Saturday night, two graphic designers, Israeli couple Ronny Edry and Michal Tamir uploaded photos of themselves superimposed with a logo saying, “Iranians, we will never bomb your country. We ♥ You” to the Facebook page of Pushpin Mehina, a small preparatory school for graphic design students. In no time, others were copying the meme and the Facebook page garnered a thousand “likes.”
No sooner had the Israelis started posting their own versions on the Facebook and the “Israel Loves Iran” blog, than the Iranians came up with their response. By Sunday, they were uploading photos with the logo, “ We ♥ You, Israeli People. The Iranian People do not like any war with any country.” While some posted personal photographs, others utilized historical examples of benevolence by Persians and Iranian toward Jews. One was of a photo of the Mausoleum of Esther and Mordecai in Hamadan, Iran. Another was of Abdol-Hossein Sardari, the “Iranian Schindler” who helped 2,000 Iranian Jews flee France during the Holocaust. Yet another had the seal of Cyrus the Great, the ruler of the Persian Empire from 600-530 BCE, with the tolerant proclamation: “I announce that everyone is free to choose a religion. People are free to live in all regions and take up a job provided that they never violate others’ rights.”