Everyone said that here in Israel we’d see an election that is all a about Iran, and today the largest opposition party started to set that agenda.
“Netanyahu is entangling us,” Kadima’s newly-revealed election slogan claims. The Hebrew word “entangling” has the strong connotation of endangerment.
Kadima’s claim is that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, head of the Likud party, lacks restraint and is prone to obsession on the issue of Iran. “Netanyahu is busy with only one thing — bombing Iran,” declared party leader Shaul Mofaz when presenting the slogan today. “Nothing else interests him. Not the middle class, not young couples, not society — only his uncontrollable urge to bomb Iran.”
Kadima is arguing in its campaign that Netanyahu’s lack of restraint on Iran is more problematic since Likud joined forces with the avowedly rightist Yisrael Beytenu party led by Avigdor Liberman last week. Mofaz claimed that “there is no responsibility and no logic, only one obsession.”
It’s The Great Schlep redux.
Taking a page from its 2008 video urging young people to do whatever it takes to get their grandparents to vote for President Barack Obama, the Jewish Council for Education and Research has put out “Call Your Zeyde” with a week to go before the election.
This time, it’s not Sarah Silverman using profane-laced humor to convince Millenials do the schlepping. Instead, it’s cool, young Jewish singer Michelle Citrin doing a clever parody of Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe.”
Everyone on the East Coast has a story about experiencing Hurricane Sandy. You’ve already seen some of these stories on our website, forward.com, describing the storm’s impact on hard-hit Jewish communities and individuals. All this has been reported, edited and published despite devastation across the region and unprecedented flooding that has made our Lower Manhattan offices inaccessible.
The Forward staff has continued its work even though many of us have been stranded in darkened homes or distant cities. With intermittent access to electricity and the Internet, our website, Facebook page and Twitter feed have been updated regularly throughout the weather emergency.
Our printed newspapers, too, are being produced and mailed this week, as usual, though there may be postal delays in bringing your copy to you. This is beyond our control, and we regret any inconvenience. Thank you in advance for your understanding.
Former Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman has been making the rounds for the Republican Jewish Committee, joining former Bush White House spokesman Ari Flesicher and RJC director Matt Brooks in shuttling through swing states speaking to Jewish voters.
The trio has visited Ohio, Florida, Nevada and, well, Florida once again, speaking mainly on issues relating to Israel and foreign policy but also touching on some domestic issues Jewish voters care about.
And this is where Coleman got his chance to make some headlines, not all of them positive. Asked by a Jewish voter about Mitt Romney’s positions on abortions, the former lawmaker, who lost his reelection bid in 2006 to another Jewish candidate, comedian Al Franken, moved to reassure that nothing will change under a Romney administration.
“The reality is, choice is an issue for a lot of people, an important issue. President Bush was president eight years, Roe v. Wade wasn’t reversed. He had two Supreme Court picks, Roe v. Wade wasn’t reversed. It’s not going to be reversed,” Coleman said at an RJC stop in Beachwood Ohio.
Hurricane Sandy won’t last 40 days and 40 nights, but it still seems pretty Biblical to some.
Flooding has already been reported in parts of Manhattan and Mayor Michael Bloomberg called for the evacuation of residents in low-lying Zone A.
Despite power and heat set to be shut off in public housing complexes in the evacuation zone, some residents of the Jacob Riis Houses on the Lower East Side have ignored the evacuation orders, DNA Info reported.
The storm has sent emergency response workers and welfare agencies into overdrive. William E. Rapfogel, the CEO of the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, said in a e-mail to board members Monday morning that most residents had been evacuated from buildings in Seagate, Brooklyn.
“All our more than 4,000 home care clients (including Bronx JCC and UJC of East Side) have been accounted for, and service plans are in effect including home attendants sleeping at many of their homes,” Rapfogel wrote.
He added that extra food was being stockpiled at Jewish homes in case the bad weather lingers.
Floods are expected in coastal areas such as Coney Island and Brighton Beach, and Williamsburg, home to the Satmar Hasidic community, has some chance of flooding due to its proximity to the East River. The Crown Heights neighborhood, home to the Lubovitch Hasidic community, is much farther inland on higher ground.
As the election enters its final stretch, the Forward is making some final projections for our congressional scorecard based on the latest polling results.
We now predict at least 31 Jews — 10 in the Senate and 21 in the House of Representatives — will serve in the next Congress, a slight rise from the initial projection of 30.
But the biggest shift doesn’t change the numbers either way. We are now projecting that Rep. Brad Sherman will likely win his intramural fight with fellow Los Angeles Jewish Democratic Rep. Howard Berman.
The race, which ranked as one of the nastiest in the nation, has been seen as close from the beginning when they were thrown together to fight for one seat due to redistricting in the suburban San Fernando Valley. The two even nearly got into a physical altercation during debate. Berman had the backing of Democratic heavyweights, while Sherman held on to a strong ground operation.
Climate change didn’t come up in any of the three debates, though Candy Crowley did mention it in passing, if only to note that it wasn’t going to be discussed. In fact, it’s hardly been mentioned in the entire campaign, even though, as I wrote last week, it is one of the most important issues that will be decided by the outcome of the election. Green blogger Nathan Currier at Huffington Post has a grimly amusing take on the timing of Hurricane Sandy right at the climax of an election season that so desperately avoided talking about the climate. Here’s Currier:
In a time when climate silence trumps climate science, when the candidates seem terrified to mention the ‘C-word,’ Candy, I hope you enjoy meeting Sandy.
Currier’s main point is that man-made climate change is directly responsible for the storm. Climate scientists and writers seem to be of three schools of thought on the question. Everyone seems to agree that the magnitude of the storm results from the collision of three distinct weather events, the hurricane itself, a cold front moving down from the Arctic and an early winter storm coming from the Midwest. One school (for instance, this very cautious piece by New York Times Dot-Earth blogger Andrew Revkin) says that the unlikely coming together of the three weather events is made more likely by the documented warming of the planet and reflects the models put forward by mainstream climate science. (Recall that Hurricane Irene, one of the top 10 killer storms of the last 30 years, wandered up the coast just last year.) But, he says, you can’t categorically state direct causality. L.A. Times science writer Neela Banerjee talked to some scientists who are equally cautious.
A second school (like this piece by Science20.com contributor Robert Cooper) says that at least one or two of the three events is a direct reflection of climate change, and would have been highly unlikely in past decades before the greenhouse effect began to make itself felt. The third school argues, like Currier at HuffPost, that all three events can be directly attributed to the global warming process.
[A]ll major components of this superstorm show the signature of human-induced climate change to varying degrees, and without global warming the chance of the three occurring together like this would have a probability of about zero. So, let’s make it simple, and just say climate change caused this storm.
I’ll name the three events quickly and then explain them in greater detail.
Luckily for President Barack Obama, Israel is no swing state.
A sneak preview of a poll which will be released tomorrow indicates that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has won the hearts and minds of Israelis. Asked which hopeful they preferred, some 57% of Jewish Israelis said Romney, while just 22% said President Barack Obama.
The poll, conducted by Tel Aviv University and the Israel Democracy Institute, suggested that in the Arab sector, the picture was totally different. Only 15% preferred Romney while 45% wanted to see Obama return to the White House.
Interestingly, in Israel Romney even some following among those who define themselves as left-wingers. Some 30% of respondents who put themselves in this group said they preferred Romney. Among rightists and centrists the figures were 70% and 54% respectively.
Some analysts have suggested that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could see a spillover benefit in his own election campaign if Romney wins, or suffer if Obama is reelected. But 69% of Israelis say that the US election results won’t impact the outcome of Israeli elections. Some 51% of Israeli Arabs believe they will.
Of course, voting behavior experts have often pointed out that voters’ analysis of how they make up their mind is often a world away from how they really choose their candidate. So we will have to wait until the early hours of January 23 to find out any true connection between the U.S. and Israeli elections.
Anywhere else, the desecration of 20 Jewish graves might have registered as a blip, another anti-Semitic act in an otherwise tranquil place with a miniscule Jewish population.
But here in New Zealand, the incident has shaken up a nation that prides itself on openness —and sparked an intensive round of national soul-searching.
The vandalism itself took place the day I arrived in Auckland for a two-week assignment. The days that followed brought predictable rounds of outrage from government officials and community leaders. Auckland Mayor Len Brown said the attack was “abhorrent,” according to the New Zealand Herald, the nation’s largest daily. “This kind of vandalism has no place in our city…The council and the local board are taking steps to improve the environment in this cemetery and prevent further such attacks.”
What I didn’t expect was outraged editorials in Kiwi newspapers in small municipalities far from Auckland, or multicultural protests against right-wing violence in response to the desecration.
Sarah Silverman isn’t the only funny Jewish lady making suggestive political videos for Obama.
Now comes Lena Dunham, creator of the buzzy HBO show “Girls,” with a video about her first time…voting.
“You want to do it with a great guy,” Dunham says. “You want to do it with a guy who brought the troops out of Iraq.”
Unlike the Silverman videos, which were produced by the Jewish Council for Education and Research, a super PAC, the new Dunham video is out from the Obama campaign itself.
The mildly suggestive video has drawn some criticism from Republicans online. In a widely quoted tweet, Breitbart contributor wrote: “How could a president with two, young blossoming daughters release an ad as disgusting as this[?]”
The Jewish Press set off a firestorm last week when it published An Open Letter to Sarah Silverman by Rabbi Yaakov Rosenblatt. The Orthodox author criticized the comedian’s politics, vulgar presentation style, and the fact that she remains childless. As a linguist, what I found most interesting about this article was the language. By looking closely at the Hebrew and Yiddish words used by the author and commenters, we can learn a lot about Orthodox Jews in America.
In my research, I have found that Orthodox Jews use many Hebrew and Yiddish words when speaking to other Orthodox Jews, but they avoid or translate those words in their speech to outsiders. In the letter to Sarah Silverman, Rosenblatt uses only one, a word most Americans know: kosher. He talks about God, not Hashem, and Orthodox rather than frum.
Many articles in the Jewish Press use more distinctive language. For example, Mordechai Bienstock writes: “We can be truly ourselves in all of our pursuits, expressing the wonderful individualistic neshamahs [souls] Hashem [God] has granted us through the application of our special natures in the physical world, what the Ba’al Shem Tov and his disciples discovered as the basis for avodah b’gashmiyut [serving God through the physical world].”
Even Rosenblatt uses Hebrew and Yiddish words in his other articles in the Jewish Press, for example, in an article about internet filters: “Our frum [religious] community”, “Kiddush Hashem” (sanctifying God’s name), and “Halacha Chabura” (study group about Jewish law).
With so much attention on the Jewish vote in this presidential election, the Forward this week asked readers to register their thoughts in three successive polls. We don’t pretend that this web-based exercise is as valid as whatever Gallup or CNN does in the field, nor is our analysis up to Nate Silver’s standards.
But even though ours was not a scientific survey — more a chance to read the minds of readers outside our usual newsroom bubble — the results pretty much confirm the conventional wisdom.
Forward readers agree far more heartily with President Obama’s foreign policy opinions than with Governor Romney’s.
They care most about the economy and health care.
And they say that Jewish issues will affect their voting decisions, but only so much.
Israel’s political map is about to upended when Netanyahu and Liberman go on television at 2 p.m. Eastern time to announce a joint Knesset run. They’re apparently not merging their parties but forming a joint list. The aim is to ensure that Bibi ends up with the largest Knesset bloc after the January 22 elections, guaranteeing that he can form the next government. A Haaretz poll last week showed that if Ehud Olmert enters the race atop a new list that includes Tzipi Livni and Yair Lapid, he would outscore the Likud by one seat, 25-to-24, and win the first shot at forming a coalition. An earlier Jerusalem Post poll showed the Olmert superlist doing even better, beating the Likud 31-27. News 1 reports today that Bibi and Liberman could jointly grab 40 seats, guaranteeing that they bury even an Olmert superlist.
The kink in the plan is the religious vote. Liberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party puts a very high priority on a secularist agenda. Haaretz reports today that the joint Bibi-Liberman list is expected to give high priority to Liberman’s secularist agenda, and might even reach out to bring Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party into a governing coalition. But the Likud relies heavily on religious voters who won’t like that. There’s a good chance that some of them will flee to the settler-based national-religious bloc, which appears to be running under a new banner that will join the Bayit Yehudi-NRP party with the National Union, reducing the Knesset strength of the Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu list. It’s possible, though, that some will break toward Shas, particularly now that Arye Deri is returning (sharing power with Eli Yishai, who remains no. 1 on the Knesset list but hands over the party chairmanship to Deri).
So the 60,000 shekel question becomes: Can Haim Ramon engineer a center-left coalition that brings back Olmert atop a new list uniting him and Livni with Lapid and Mofaz’s Kadima, and work out a platform that allows them to join after the election with Ramon’s old friend and fellow dove Arye Deri? Can the various personalities bury their egos and feuds and join together to restore the peace process and two-state solution before it dies forever?
Fear spread across Israel’s illegal immigrants from Sudan last summer. As the Forward reported, it has seemed in recent days like the Interior Ministry’s deadline was looming and they would soon be imprisoned. In August he announced plans to jail all Sudanese illegals without trial starting on October 15 and was expected to get underway any time now.
But today, it emerged that his threat had received no authorization from the government, and is therefore illegal. Today, in response to advocacy groups representing the illegals with a petition in the Jerusalem District Court, the state revealed that no official decision was taken on the arrest of Sudanese citizens in Israel.
“At this time, the Immigration Authority has yet to receive any order pertaining to the incarceration of Sudanese infiltrators,” the State Attorney wrote. “Should such a decision be made in the future it will be stated publically by the authority, 30 days before going into effect.”
So what was going on here? Did the Interior Ministry carelessly overlook the need to get authorization for his planned round up? Unlikely. At the Forward we suggested as early as June, even before Yishai’s imprisonment promise, that he was bluffing with his tough talk on illegals, making threats that he knew Israel couldn’t keep. And it would appear that for the populist value of the statements and/or to deter other illegals from coming to Israel, he made such unfulfillable threats.
One question which remains: Why didn’t others in government, some of whom where deeply unhappy about his threats as the Forward reported in June, pull the rug from under him and save Sudanese in Israel several months of panic?
When Jack Lew was appointed chief of staff to President Obama in January, many in the Jewish community wondered how he could observe Shabbat in such a demanding position.
Luckily, Lew has the most powerful man in the world to keep track of time as the sun starts to dip low in the sky on Friday afternoons.
“I saw the president on many occasions on Friday afternoons look at his watch, and ask: ‘Isn’t it time for you to get going?’” Lew said, “or, ‘Why are you still here?’ The president was not checking the clock “because he doesn’t think I can keep time,” Lew said. Rather, the extra care on this issue reflects the President’s wish “to remind me that it’s important to him, not just to me, that I be able to make that balance.”
Lew, who is Orthodox, revealed the details about his keeping Shabbat in an extraordinary interview with the Forward that touched on his need to observe the Jewish holy day.
“And he’s respected that time and again,” the chief of staff said of Obama.
What do you think about the presidential election? We want to hear your opinions on a number of topics, so answer today’s question. We’ll have a new question waiting for you each night this week and a final roundup blog post on Friday.
In our second question, we asked readers which issues matter most to them in the upcoming election. Respondents ranked health care and the economy as the issues that were most important to them. Lagging behind in third place was Israel.
After Monday’s debate, many took note of the way in which Mitt Romney shifted his foreign policy towards what constitutes the center on Syria, Afghanistan, and Iran. It was as if the previous ten months or so had never happened, with The New York Times editorial page suggesting that Romney now “does not actually have any real ideas on foreign policy beyond what President Obama has already done, or plans to do”. His relative moderation also led some, including The Forward’s Gal Beckerman to ask, “So Romney seems to have ditched the neocons tonight. Where was Dan Senor’s influence?”
Senor’s name has been thrown around a good deal during this campaign. As a senior foreign policy advisor to the Romney/Ryan ticket, it was suggested infamously and rather insidiously by Maureen Dowd that Senor was in fact a “neocon puppet master”, moving the lips of his candidates. Aside from the obvious problem with her imagery, Dowd (and indeed Gal’s) statements are based upon a fundamental misconception: that Senor is a neoconservative at all.
This false impression of Senor derives in the main from two things we know about Senor’s career, such as it is. The first is that he has been a very strong advocate not only for Israel and its absolute right to defend itself but for the military option to prevent Iran from going nuclear. The other and more significant one perhaps (since the former is the consensus view in the United States) is Senor’s association with the liberation of Iraq as spokesman for L. Paul Bremer, who as head of the Coalition Provisional Authority in effect ran the country in the year after the liquidation of the Ba’athist regime.
What do you think about the presidential election? We want to hear your opinions on a number of topics, so answer today’s question and then check back Wednesday evening for the results. We’ll have a new question waiting for you each night this week and a final roundup blog post on Friday.
Last night we asked for your take on the candidates’ views on the Israel/Iran conflict as they expressed them during the final debate. Twenty-one percent of respondents completely agreed with Governor Romney’s stance and 35% completely agreed with President Obama’s.
When I heard that the rabbi of a Chabad house on a university campus was in trouble for providing alcohol to students, I assumed that I didn’t need to hear any further details to understand what the story was.
That led me to write this post. I approached the subject with prejudice and without a firm grasp on the facts.
The story I thought I knew was that Rabbi Dov Hillel Klein has been rightfully banned from the campus of Northwestern University for providing alcohol to underage students. Of course, I said at the time, there are worse places to drink on any American campus. But I also said that it was hard to sympathize with Klein because he had still provided alcohol to underage students.
Since then, I investigated further and found that reality did not exactly agree with the conclusions I initially jumped to.
First, Klein appears to be a saint. I spoke to several Northwestern students last week from every corner of the school’s Jewish community – and beyond – and found that Klein is universally loved and respected. He goes to athletic games and school events of every kind, especially when it’s an opportunity to support a student he knows well. One recent alumna told me that she still considers Klein to be her rabbi. He’s also a volunteer chaplain for the Evanston, Ill. police department and he’s the person who is responsible for making sure that kosher food is available to Northwestern students.
With brazen defiance, just a day before he is due to meet with the European Union’s high representative for foreign affairs Catherine Ashton, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu went over the Green Line and defended building there.
“United Jerusalem is Israel’s eternal capital, we have a full right to build in it,” he declared today in Gilo, a Jerusalem neighborhood build on land that Israel conquered in 1967.
Netanyahu has been under strong international criticism, including from Ashton, for a plan which became public last week to build 797 new homes in GIlo.
Standing not far from the site of the new homes he said: “We have built Jerusalem, we are building Jerusalem and we will continue to build Jerusalem. This is our policy and I will continue to back building in Jerusalem.”
Netanyahu was doing what the Israeli right loves the most, namely showing that he’s a strong leader who won’t be bullied from his Zionistic credentials (which are seen as synonymous with pro-settlement credentials) by even the most powerful of world leaders. And yes, if you think it has the whiff of election posturing to it you would be right. But which elections?