Forward Thinking

Terror at the Boston Marathon

By Abigail Jones

Getty Images
A woman is loaded into an ambulance after being injured by one of two bombs exploded during the 117th Boston Marathon.

When you grow up in Boston, there are a few things you take as fact: The Red Sox are religion; driving in the breakdown lane is accepted and the Boston Marathon is one of the most celebrated days on the calendar.

The Boston Marathon is the oldest marathon in the country, dating back to 1897. Each spring, it takes a winding route through Boston’s suburbs, starting in Hopkinton and making its way through Framingham, Wellesley and Newton before spilling out into Boston’s Back Bay.

Growing up, my family and I would walk the five minutes it took to get from our house in Newton to cheer on runners near the famed Heartbreak Hill. It was a packed, messy scene of unmatched excitement and pure joy — marathoners running by in packs; fans cheering on friends, loved ones and total strangers; boom boxes blasting, and families hanging out on fold-up beach chairs, drinking beers and eating Cape Cod potato chips and chilling out. The weather almost always seemed to cooperate, too. My sister and I would sandwich ourselves between nearby fans to hand out Dixie cups filled with water and Gatorade. We looked for the names runners wrote on their shirts and shouted in failed unison: Go Jessica, go! You can do it, Meagan!

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Yesh Atid's Ofer Shelah on War, Grief and Promise

By J.J. Goldberg

It’s been a while since I’ve had the weekly privilege of translating and editing Ofer Shelah. Some years back he was the Forward’s Israeli commentator as well as a military and sports correspondent for Maariv. Now he’s Yesh Atid’s Knesset faction chairman. Today, marking Soldiers’ Memorial Day in Israel, he posted these thoughts on his Facebook page (in my poor translation - the Hebrew original is after the jump). His bottom line: The only true respect for the fallen is to vow that force will never again be used except in genuine self-defense.

It’s worth a read, especially if you’ve fallen into the trap of thinking that Lapid and Yesh Atid are just a warmed over yuppie version of Lieberman and Yisrael Beiteinu. ! היידה עופר

In the years after the First Lebanon War, Memorial Day was for me a day of private grief and longing. In that war, which remains to this day deeply divisive, my generation – comrades, commanders, soldiers – went first and fell, and their loss was immediately and deeply felt. For one day, it managed to cover over the helpless, bitter anger that that costly, pointless war aroused.

The years passed; the faces of the dead faded. In my annual Memorial Day conversations with my father, who with his generation fought and lost more than we ever did, the anger became stronger than the sadness. We would speak about the fact that this place, where we live and which we fought to defend, as it’s customary to say and as we say to the families of the fallen in a clumsy attempt to offer comfort for our friends who fell, is taking on an appearance that transforms our longing for them to anger over our lives that aren’t worthy of their loss.

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LA Times: Boston Cops 'Question Saudi National'

By J.J. Goldberg

The Los Angeles Times now confirms what the N.Y. Post first reported, that the Boston police are questioning a Saudi national in connection with today’s bombings. The Times attributes its report to federal law enforcement officials.

Earlier, I reported on the initial N.Y. Post story and flippantly dismissed it as a presumably false rumor. A Boston police spokesman had told Talking Points Memo that he didn’t know where the Post got its story, “but it didn’t come from us.” Looks like I might have dismissed it too quickly. The Post reported that the Saudi national had been injured in the blast and was being kept in the hospital under guard. The L.A. Times made no mention of those details.

From earlier: Chemi Shalev notes that the event occurred on a significant day on the Massachusetts calendar: Patriot Day, April 19, the anniversary of the beginning of the American Revolution in the Battles of Lexington and Concord, a a state holiday. It’s also the anniversary of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. I would add that it also happens to be Income Tax Day, symbolizing the dictatorial power of the hated federal government, if you’re of such a mindset.

On the other hand, it’s also the eve of Israeli Independence Day. Granted, that’s according to the Hebrew calendar, and Palestinians generally mark the Nakba on the Gregorian anniversary, May 15. On the other hand, it’s conceivable that as jihadis’ intelligence gets better, they’d want to time an attack to ruin their enemies’ celebrations. But, again, at this point we’re speculating.


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The Forward's Winning Newsroom

By Jane Eisner

It’s awards season again in the journalist world, and I’m honored to report that Forward staffers have received some worthy recognition for their work.

At the annual Ippies Awards ceremony March 28, which highlighted the work of New York City’s ethnic and independent media, the Forward’s Naomi Zeveloff and Nate Lavey won second place for best multimedia package for their enchanting story about Naomi Kutin, the young Orthodox weight-lifter from New Jersey who is the strongest contender in her class in the world. And Kurt Hoffman, our multitalented design director, won second place for best print design.

Meantime, Josh Nathan-Kazis is once again a finalist in the Deadline Club awards, the prizes bestowed annually by the New York chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Josh’s series investigating Jewish cemeteries in New Jersey made the selective cut for all newspapers with a circulation under 100,000. The winners will be announced at a gala dinner on May 16.

I’m also pleased to announce the addition of two names to our opinion page roster of columnists. One is familiar to devoted readers: Jay Michaelson. After years of writing for the arts and culture section, Jay will now train his focus on politics, religion and society on the op-ed page. He is joined by a newcomer to the Forward, Laura Rozen, an accomplished journalist based in Washington, D.C., who has written about foreign policy and the Middle East for Politico, Yahoo and Foreign Affairs and now for Al-Monitor. Cause for celebration.

Video: Nate Lavey



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Shul Axes Pamela Geller, and 2 Others Invite Her

By J.J. Goldberg

Pamela Geller

Her April 14 appearance at Great Neck Synagogue was canceled amid liberal protests, but anti-Islam blogger Pamela Geller got the last laugh: The next morning, two other area synagogues invited her to speak the same day as the canceled speech.

“Two courageous and magnificent Rabbis have asked me to speak on Sunday,” Geller wrote last Thursday on her blog, “Atlas Shrugged.” “Rabbi Yoseph Geisinsky of the Chabad, Great Neck and Rabbi Dr. Bernhard Rosenberg of Congregation Beth-El in Edison, New Jersey have both invited me to speak at their synagogues on Sunday – the same day I was scheduled to speak at the Great Neck Synagogue on Long Island until that synagogue caved to a leftist/Islamic supremacist smear and intimidation campaign.” Geller wrote that the invitations both came Thursday morning, hours after Great Neck Synagogue announced the cancellation.

Chabad of Great Neck is five minutes away from Great Neck Synagogue. Geller is scheduled to speak there at 10:00 a.m., the same time set for the canceled gig, on the theme of “The Imposition of Terrorism in the United States.” Her talk in Edison, an hour and a half south, is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. The title there is “The Imposition of Sharia in America.”

The two rabbis adopted noticeably different tones in describing their motives for inviting her. Geisinsky, the Great Neck Chabad rabbi, adopted a neutral stance toward Geller’s views, implicitly positioning himself on the side of free speech rather than Islam-bashing. Geisinsky told TheIslandNow.com that Geller would “stick to discussions of free speech and terrorism,” and the synagogue’s moderator would “be able to stop it” if Geller goes “into any areas that don’t go in our direction.”

Rosenberg, a political conservative who created Rabbis for Romney last fall, took a more militant line. Interviewed on the NJ.com website, he said he didn’t “have to agree with everything she says or stands for,” but he went on to offer implicit endorsement, saying, “When Jews are being attacked throughout the world, someone’s got to speak up.”

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Yonkers, The Jewish Press, Sharia, Rabbi Yosef Geisinsky, Pamela Geller, Rabbi Bernhard Rosenberg, Islam, Edison NJ, Great Neck Synagogue, Dov Hikind, Chabad of Great Neck, Congregation Beth-El

What's at Stake After Hugo Chavez

By Michael Kaminer

getty images
Uphill Fight: Venezuelans are voting for a new president amid a surge of emotion around the death of Hugo Chavez.

On Sunday, April 14, Venezuelans will vote to replace their late president, Hugo Chavez. And while Chavez may have succumbed to cancer last month, his shadow looms large from the grave.

The campaign of Nicolas Maduro, Chavez’s handpicked successor, continues riding the intense emotions around the longtime strongman’s death. That has made the campaign an uphill battle for Henrique Capriles Radonski, the opposition leader whose Jewish background has been fodder for ever-escalating levels of anti-Semitic rhetoric.

In previous elections, the tireless Capriles led Venezuela’s opposition to some of its best poll results. Though he’s shrunk Maduro’s lead to 10 points, according to Reuters, many observers believe Chavez’ legacy may prove the election’s deciding factor.

For Venezuela’s Jews, any hope of change means a positive sign. As the Forward reported last month, the late president derided Capriles, whose grandparents were Polish Holocaust survivors, as “imperialist,” a “capitalist,” a “little bourgeois,” and “Zionist.” And a campaign-related article in state media – headlined “The Enemy Is Zionism” – said Capriles “represents Israeli ideology covertly,” according to CNN.

For an inside perspective on what the election could hold for the country as a whole and the Jewish community in particular, the Forward spoke with David Bittan, Caracas-based president of the Venezuelan Confederation of Israelite Associations.

During the Chavez regime, Bittan provided a fearless voice against anti-Semitism. On the night of the death of ‘El Commandante,’ Bittan went on national television to express condolences.

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Shul Cancels Pamela Geller — But Fails To Take Stand

By Nechama Liss-Levinson

Pamela Geller

It was after 11 p.m. yesterday that I first heard the news that my synagogue, the Great Neck Synagogue, had announced the cancellation of a speaking engagement by Pamela Geller, founder of Stop Islamization of America (SIOA), described as a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center. I breathed a great sigh of relief. I quickly stopped writing the piece I was working on about how my heart was broken by the intransigence of the synagogue and its leadership in confronting a moral challenge.

Despite the cancellation, I am still filled with pain. When the synagogue announced its decision to cancel Geller’s talk, originally set for April 14, it cited “security concerns,” particularly for member families and their children. This indeed may be the reason that the executive board of the synagogue cancelled the event.
In my heart, I hope it was not the only reason. I hope the leadership was (at least unconsciously) influenced by the virtual flood of phone calls, emails, and private conversations in which Great Neck Synagogue members, as well as others, made the point that even though Geller has the right to speak, the synagogue does not have an obligation to offer her its pulpit.

I wish my synagogue had spoken of the moral question. I wish the leaders had stood up and said, “We didn’t initially realize what Geller represents. Now that we do know, we will stand proudly against hate speech.” I wish that they had noticed that Geller’s concerns about radical Islam often morph into a vilification of all Muslims and the Islamic faith. Her language encourages denigration and dehumanization, rather than constructive discussion and cooperation.

What is even more distressing to me is the reaction that the cancellation has engendered. The commentary on the blogosphere, including a statement posted on Geller’s website, now denigrates the synagogue and its leaders. The vitriol and hatred in these postings are frightening. Both sides in this conflict feel that they are right, that they own the moral high ground, and that an evil is being perpetrated. But a quick survey of these postings will find that the supporters of Geller have totally lost the capacity for civil discourse.

I had planned to use two quotes from Elie Wiesel in my original post about the Geller invitation. His most famous one is: “Indifference to evil is evil.” And then, just days ago, on Holocaust Remembrance Day, a young friend posted this, also from Wiesel: “I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides.”

I feel that these quotes give me added strength to do what I think is right. And then I read scores of quotes online from supporters of Geller,also using the example of the Holocaust as a reason that she should be permitted to speak. Most used the phrase, “Never again.” Who knew that even the Holocaust can be used to justify such disparate viewpoints?

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Orthodox Push Back on Kotel

By Nathan Jeffay

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The rabbi of the Western Wall Shmuel Rabinowitz isn’t opposed to the plan for an egalitarian prayer section there, he announced in a statement emailed to reporters yesterday. But it’s already clear that he doesn’t speak for the Haredi mainstream.

Rabinowitz is Haredi, but softer on religious issues than most Haredi leaders. This is partly because he’s a state employee and realizes that there are limits to his autonomy, and partly because his family background is more moderate than many — for example he served in the army.

“The Kotel isn’t ours to give away,” rages the editorial of the Jerusalem-based Hasidic-establishment newspaper Hamodia today, using the Hebrew name for the Western Wall. “The place of the Temple was chosen by God and the Shechinah [divine presence] has never departed from the Kotel.”

Hamodia went on to argue that the Women of the Wall fight is a proxy battle by American Reform which is trying to compensate for its failure to make inroads in to the Israeli religious scene. “The Reform Movement in the United States is using the Women of the Wall to bully the government in to giving it recognition that the people have withheld,” it claimed.

Hamodia argues that while much of the world sees the fight of Women of the Wall as a human rights issue “nothing could be further from the truth.” It insists that Women of the Wall are actually infringing the rights of other female worshippers at the Wall with their controversial monthly prayer meetings there, such as today’s gathering which resulted in two female worshippers being detained by police..

“Indeed, if anyone’s rights are being trampled, it is those of the regulars at the Kotel, the women who come — every day not just Rosh Chodesh [the start of the month] — to daven [pray], not to create provocation. These women are denied a place of quiet, holiness and dignity, where they have been coming for decades to pour out their hearts, by a group of lawbreakers that seeks to advance a political agenda.”

Hamodia portrays the Reform movement as hypocritical, writing: “How ironic that the same Reform movement that hails Israel’s Supreme Court when it rules that the Tal Law on drafting yeshivah students is unconstitutional, or that Haredi schools must teach the core curriculum, has no trouble ignoring what it when it bars the Women of the Wall from holding services at the Kotel.”


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Today's Climate Shocker: Plains Blizzard (Sandy 2?)

By J.J. Goldberg

Still think the climate isn’t changing? Here’s one for the record books: an unusually fierce spring storm system on Tuesday brings record breaking blizzards to South Dakota, Nebraska, ice storms as far south as Oklahoma. Winter storm warnings stretched from Utah to Minnesota on Tuesday, said the Washington Post weather blog. NBC News reported temperature in Denver dropping 55 degrees in 24 hours. And:

On Tuesday, temperature differences across the Plains were more than 90 degrees. Highs ranged from 12 degrees in Cheyenne, Wyo., to 108 degrees in Laredo, Texas.

The culprit, AccuWeather.com explains, is an unusual blast of freezing Arctic air moving south, colliding with a low-pressure system moving eastward off the Rockies and a warm, moist air mass moving north from Texas. And this, dear readers, is almost exactly what caused Hurricane Sandy last fall to become the East Coast catastrophe it became.

The critical piece is that freezing Arctic air mass showing up where it doesn’t belong. You won’t be surprised to hear me suggest that it’s another nasty consequence of global warming. Here’s how it works:

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Mayor Anthony Weiner? It Could Happen.

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

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Anthony Weiner

A ho-hum New York City mayoral race just got a whole lot more interesting.

Sext scandal-ridden former congressman Anthony Weiner announced, a few paragraphs into a laudatory New York Times Magazine profile, that he’s considering joining the crowded Democratic field.

That could shake up allegiances among New York City’s political clans, including some city Jews. And analysts warned against betting against Weiner, given his potent resume and proven vote-winning prowess.

“Before his difficulties, before his personal troubles, he was going to be mayor,” said Michael Tobman, a New York City-based political consultant, alluding to the pervading sense prior to Weiner’s 2011 scandal that he was the frontrunner in the mayoral race.

Weiner ceded that leading spot in the Democratic field to City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. In a race without any Jewish candidates, Quinn and the progressive Public Advocate Bill De Blasio have been contending for the city’s non-Orthodox Jewish votes.

Quinn’s strength is in Manhattan, where her City Council district is located. De Blasio, who previously represented parts of Brooklyn in the City Council, has built support in Brooklyn and Queens.

“Weiner makes trouble for Public Advocate De Blasio and Speaker Quinn,” said Hank Sheinkopf, another New York City political consultant. “He’s got the right name and a history in the outer boroughs, in places where the bulk of the Jews live.”

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Kerry's New Road Map for a Mideast Peace Deal

By J.J. Goldberg

From Tuesday’s Yediot Ahronot, as translated in the emailed Daily News Update of the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace comes a fairly detailed description by Alex Fishman of John Kerry’s game plan for restarting the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Fishman is Yediot’s veteran, impeccably well-sourced military affairs correspondent. He attributes this information to State Department sources. It doesn’t appear on line (neither in Hebrew nor English) so I’m posting the Abraham Center’s translation below in full.

In brief, Fishman reports that Kerry is aiming for a 4-way meeting in Amman between Israel, the Palestinian Authority, the United States and Jordan. (Kerry is very eager to have Jordan step in as a sponsor of peace talks, both to give Abbas some substantive Arab backing and to give King Abdullah II a boost.) You’ll note at once that Abbas is already refusing to attend without a clear gesture from Israel. In the past he’s demanded a full Israeli settlement freeze. Lately he’s begun demanding a map showing Bibi Netanyahu’s notion of a future Palestinian state. As I’ve reported in the past, Abu Mazen has been refusing to talk to Bibi (after willingly talking to Ehud Olmert before him) because his sense is that Bibi has no intention of ever ceding enough land for a real state. The idea of the map is to show that the talks will go somewhere, so Abu Mazen doesn’t enter a dead end and end up looking like a fool.

So if you stop reading after paragraph 2, you get the sense that Kerry’s plan is dead in the water. But Fishman goes on to report that Kerry thinks he can eventually get Bibi to give up some lesser concessions that will satisfy Abu Mazen and get the talks started. The two sides’ notions of final borders are impossibly far apart at this point, but Kerry is aiming for an interim agreement on Israel ceding 80% of the West Bank as a first stage. It’s a long shot, but who knows? So were the 1969 Mets…

The Kerry Plan

By Alex Fishman, Yediot Ahronot, April 9, 2013

The new American secretary of state, John Kerry, is trying to get Israel and the Palestinians to sit down to a four-way meeting in Jordan. The answer he’s received from Abu Mazen, at least for the time being, has been flat out refusal.

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'Dormant' Arab Peace Plan Gets Annual Tune-up

By J.J. Goldberg

getty images
John Kerry

American and Israeli press outlets (Washington Post/AP, Detroit Free Press, Times of Israel, Arutz Sheva/Israel National News) are carrying unsourced reports that Secretary of State Kerry, currently visiting Turkey, Israel and the Palestinian Authority, is hoping to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks on the basis of the “dormant” Arab Peace Initiative, which is “suddenly” springing back to life.

That would be the Saudi-initiated plan adopted unanimously by the League of Arab States in 2002, and reaffirmed in 2007. It offered Israel full recognition, normalized diplomatic relations and a formal end to the Arab-Israeli conflict in return for a return to the pre-1967 borders and an “just” and “agreed” resolution of the Palestinian refugee problem. Kerry reportedly wants to dust off the supposedly long-forgotten plan and introduce certain “sweeteners,” such as better security guarantees and border modifications, to make it more palatable to Israel, which has never formally responded to the offer.

The funny thing is, from the Arab point of view the plan isn’t dormant at all. It turns out the Arab League considers it very much alive and actually has a standing Peace Initiative Follow-up Committee that’s been meeting regularly (2010, 2011, 2012 to discuss the plan and figure out how to get it moving. The committee is meeting today in Doha, Qatar, with the Palestinian Authority’s president Mahmoud Abbas, foreign minister Riyad Malki and chief negotiator Saeb Erekat in attendance, to finalize plans for a delegation of foreign ministers that will go to Washington on April 29 to meet with Kerry.

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Margaret Thatcher: The Feminist Challenge

By Jane Eisner

Getty Images
Iron Lady: Margaret Thatcher in 1975.

Margaret Thatcher was a challenge to most feminists, myself included. She was well into her second term as Britain’s first woman prime minister when I moved to London as a foreign correspondent. Beneath the polished veneer that so tantalized Americans at that time, Britain was in utter turmoil — bludgeoned by terrorist violence, divided by the brutal miner’s strike and economic upheaval, and uncertain about its role in a changing Europe.

Anyone trying to steer this battered ship of state would court controversy, but Thatcher didn’t just court it. She grabbed it by the lapels, yelled in its face and dared it to respond.

She wasn’t at all what one would expect of a woman leader, then or now. Was that right? Was that fair?

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Europe's Foundation of Ashes and Dust

By Liam Hoare

Europe’s foundations are constructed upon ashes and dust. They are built where the walls of the ghettos were once erected around overcrowded quarters in Warsaw, Łódź, and Krakow. They are built upon the pits of Babi Yar and the mass graves made across Poland, Russia, and the Ukraine. They are built upon the ruins of the camps whose names are forever branded on our collective memory: Auschwitz, Treblinka, and Sobibor.

Europe exists because of the Holocaust – it is forever tied to that awful past. Through education, commemoration, and memorialisation, the peoples of Europe are constantly borne back to the horrific events which preceded our zero hour, in the knowledge that they were of our own making and that it is our responsibility as a continent to ensure such things never occur again. European institutions exist precisely in order to prevent another war to end all wars, another war of imperialism, slavery, and annihilation.

By extension, Europe also exists in order to protect those who were the victims of the last great war and Hitler’s campaign of racial and biological purification, including and perhaps above all the Jewish people. Ensuring the safety and allowing for the political, economic, and cultural flourishing of European Jewry is or should be one of postwar Europe’s founding principles. It is an obligation of national governments and the European community to uphold it at all costs.

The nations of Europe have indeed succeeded in preventing another war, another catastrophe, yet across the continent conditions for Jews are worsening. In 2012, recorded anti-Semitic hate crimes increased by 30 percent year-on-year, ranging from physical violence to the vandalism of synagogues and cemeteries. This was not, as it has been in the past, a phenomenon linked to events in the Middle East, a revulsion at times of conflagration and unrest in Gaza or Lebanon. Rather, there has been an overall deterioration in the economic and political state of Europe, with Jews suffering disproportionately as a consequence.

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Why Holocaust Survivors in Israel Are Angry

By Nathan Jeffay

haaretz

Back in 2008, it looked like the living conditions of Holocaust survivors were, at long last, to significantly improve. A state commission of enquiry, headed by retired Judge Dalia Dorner, concluded that there should be major increases in money directed to survivors, and the government agreed.

Five years on, ask most survivors and they’ll tell you that nothing has changed. A survey of survivors by the Tel Aviv-based Foundation for the Benefit of Holocaust Victims in Israel has just reported that 56% of survivors surveyed take the view that there has been no change in the way the government treats them since the commission of enquiry. It conducted its survey ahead of Yom Hashoah next week.

The Foundation found that some 67% of survivors are dissatisfied with the way the state treats them.

Shockingly, it found that a fifth of Holocaust survivors living in Israel have skipped at least one meal in the last year due to financial worries. One in eight survivors found that in the last year they could not afford all the medicines they needed; that more than half can’t afford all their monthly living costs; that more than one in three faces financial difficulties; and that only 6% say they are free of economic problems.

With a new government in place in Jerusalem, a new Knesset, and lots of new optimistic promises in the Israeli political sphere, these statistics five years after a government actually adopted a state commission of enquiry underscores just how far proposals for change can get without actually being translated in to reality.


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Yuri Fights! Yuri Wins!

By Ari Jankelowitz

ari jankelowitz

Yuri Foreman, the rabbi-in-training who doubles as a boxer, was dreaming big after winning the latest fight in his comeback trail.

He wants to be the next Jewish champ.

“In the 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s there were so many Jewish boxing champions, the best at that time, the strongest people,” he said. “So I am part of that legacy only a little couple decades later. I’m representing my people, Jewish people, and I want to be world champion again, since I was a kid.”

The visions of glory came after Foreman easily dispatched Gundrick King in a unanimous decision.

King in the end did not pose much of a challenge to Yuri Foreman. Significantly shorter and noticeably slower than Foreman, King just could not keep up with Foreman’s fluid motions in the ring. Foreman danced around King landing his punches with ease and after a relatively brisk six rounds Foreman had another victory by unanimous decision in his pocket.

Foreman, less tentative than his previous fight against Brandon Baue, displayed efficient speed in the fists and legs. Sans knee brace thanks to a new New York State rule prohibiting them in the ring, Foreman was clearly the better fighter. One’s only complaint could be that Foreman struggled somewhat in cutting off the angles in the ring so that he could catch King in the corners, otherwise Foreman fought an almost perfect fight.

King simply did not punch enough to warrant a defense or an offense. In the locker room, Foreman’s trainer summed up the match against King, “He’s a tough kid to hit. The kid didn’t want to engage, and Yuri was able to do his business [with him] regardless of that.”

When asked about Foreman’s next step, trainer Mark Puttenvink said that he would like to see Foreman fight for a belt this fall. Puttenvink floated the idea of Foreman fighting Ishe Smith for the IBF light middleweight title. With championships in the air, a local reporter from New Haven asked Foreman what it would mean to him to be world champion again.

Of course we could not resist asking Foreman if he would like for that championship fight to happen in Israel.

“There is always a chance.” Foreman said, “I don’t know how big is the chance.”


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Yair Lapid's Party Popularity Jumps 50%

By Nathan Jeffay

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Yair Lapid

Yesh Atid surprised pundits when it came second in the January general election in Israel, despite the fact it was a brand new political party with a leader, Yair Lapid, who had never served in Knesset. But it doesn’t stop there. If a poll released today is right, then Yesh Atid has increased its popularity by almost 50% since the election.

It has 19 of the Knesset’s 120 seats, but if new elections were held now, according to a Knesset Channel survey, it would win 28. And you guessed it — that means that it would be the biggest Knesset party and Yair Lapid would be Prime Minister.

In today’s poll, it looks like Yesh Atid has been winning its newfound support from the right. The religious-Zionist Jewish Home party loses two seats and Likud-Beytenu, which was already miserable at winning only 31 seats in the election, is down to 25.

It would seem that the opinion changes since the election reflect the fact that the coalition negotiations led by Likud-Beytenu’s Benjamin Netanyahu were long and chaotic, and that Lapid came out looking like a winner. After all, he stuck to his insistence that Haredi parties were omitted from the coalition, and that the new government progresses legislation for a draft of Haredi men to the army.

The question now is whether Prime Minister Netanyahu can pull back from the humiliation of the coalition negotiations and regain his political dominance. There are no obvious initiatives on the horizon that will see him woo the public, apart from any flexing of muscles on security matters. But we’re now entering the phase where Lapid’s newness to the political fold may lead to the end of his honeymoon and the start of Bibi’s reassertion of his power. Lapid has just become Finance Minister, a position he didn’t particularly want, and only once his decisions start to filter through and impact of people’s day-to-day lives will we know if he’s built for politics, or whether today’s poll is a case of him peaking early.


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Rabbi-in-Training Yuri Foreman Returns to Ring

By Ari Jankelowitz

Ari Jankelowitz
Yuri Foreman

Yuri Foreman (29-2), the heralded rabbi-in-training continues his comeback trail in New York City tonight at the Roseland Ballroom.

His opponent is Gundrick King (18-9), a former college football player for the University of North Alabama, who not to be outdone intellectually, studied applied microcomputer design while in college. On paper this could be considered one of the more cerebral matchups of 2013.

Foreman is coming off a 6 round victory by unanimous decision over Brandon Baue (12-8) at the B.B. King Blues Club and Grill in Times Square this past January. He is looking for his first consecutive victory since 2008. A win for Foreman will most likely extend his comeback to eventually challenge for a championship. A loss might see him seeking a permanent post at the pulpit.

King is coming off a third round technical knockout loss against George Tahdooahnippah at the Comanche Nation Casino in Oklahoma. While not a household name, King primarily fights in the South and represents another important step forward for Foreman.

King’s lone match in New York since turning professional in 2007 came last year and pitted him against title contender Charlie Ota of Tokyo, Japan at the Madison Square Garden Theatre. King suffered a technical knockout while standing in the 7th round of an 8 round contest.

Make sure to follow @jdforward for live coverage at the fight. You can also watch the fight live online via Dibella Entertainment’s website: dbe1.com or on the old fashion television on Sportsnet starting at 7 p.m.


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'Jewish' County and the Texas Prosecutor Murders

By Michael Kaminer

wikipedia
David Spangler Kaufman

The sprawling Texas county where two prosecutors have been shot in recent weeks has the unlikeliest of Jewish roots.

Kaufman County, a 780-square-mile jurisdiction just 20 miles southeast of Dallas, is named for David Spangler Kaufman. He holds a place in history books as a lawmaker in the Republic of Texas and was the only Jewish Texan to serve in the U.S. Congress until the 1970s.

The county, in which dog bites and escaped cows usually make up the police blotter, has made national headlines for the shocking recent killings of local law officials. County district attorney Mike McLelland and his wife, Cynthia, were found shot to death inside their home in the Kaufman County town of Forney on Saturday.

UPDATE: The Texas prosecutor and his wife who were shot at their home on Saturday each suffered multiple gunshot wounds, and sheriff’s deputies found cartridge casings next to their bodies, according to an affidavit reviewed by Reuters on Tuesday.

On Jan. 31, one of McLelland’s lead prosecutors, Mark E. Hasse, was shot and killed in a parking lot as he strolled to his office at the county courthouse.

The murders took place in an area named for a Jewish pioneer who did his home state proud. According to the Texas State Historical Association, David Spangler Kaufman (1813–1851) was a “lawyer, Indian fighter, and politician.” Pennsylvania-born, Princeton-educated Kaufman began his legal career in Natchitoches, Louisiana, in 1835. Two years later he settled in Nacogdoches, Texas, where he continued practicing law.

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English Soccer, an Italian Fascist and the Jews

By Liam Hoare

getty images
Paolo Di Canio

There was an old slogan on the left in the years between the wars: Fascism means war. Succinct, it managed to say at once that war is inherent to fascism, since it is both expansionist and authoritarian, and that fascism demands war as an ideology so heinous it must be combated.

Such sentiments evidently still mean something to David Miliband.

The British Labour MP resigned from the board of English Premier League team Sunderland AFC Sunday, after the club appointed Italian Paolo Di Canio as their new manager following the sacking of Martin O’Neill. In a brief statement, Miliband said:

I wish Sunderland AFC all success in the future. It is a great institution that does a huge amount for the North East and I wish the team very well over the next vital seven games. However, in the light of the new manager’s past political statements, I think it right to step down.

Miliband’s move came days after he announced his intention to leave the House of Commons in order to take up the directorship of the International Rescue Committee in New York.

Di Canio has always been a controversial figure in European soccer, regardless of his ‘past political statements’, because of his passionate and erratic behaviour on and off the field. In 1998 during his playing career, Di Canio was banned for 11 matches and fined $15,000 for pushing over a referee. During the 2002-03 season while playing for West Ham United he repeatedly criticised his manager, Glenn Roeder, in the press as the club slumped to the bottom of the Premier League. Di Canio left his last job as manager of Swindon Town under a cloud following disagreements over finances and transfers while the club was in the middle of a takeover.

But Di Canio is also a fascist. To be specific, “I am a fascist, not a racist,” he declared in 2005, as if trying to distinguish between these two types of supremacisms makes his politics less abhorrent. While he was playing for SS Lazio, Di Canio became closely affiliated with the club’s ultras, and on three separate occasions celebrated scoring by raising his right arm in the fascistic style to a group of supporters known for their right-wing extremism. “What a delightful Roman salute!” Alessandra Mussolini is reported to have said after one such display during a game against cross-city rivals, AS Roma. “I was deeply moved. I will write him a thank you note.”

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