Forward Thinking

News Quiz: Kosher Starbucks, Anthony Weiner

By Lenore Skenazy

Anthony Weiner, Elliot Spitzer and Bernie Goetz. They’re back, in this week’s quiz. The latest item to wow visitors to Kosherfest? It’s here, too, because, like those men, it’s as Jewish and strange as it Goetz.

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Anthony Weiner's Meltdown Over Huma

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

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Anthony Weiner blew his stack at a Jewish voter in Brooklyn who insulted his wife, calling the man a “jackass” through a mouthful of cheese danish.

In a video posted online by Yeshiva World News political correspondent Jacob Kornbluh, Weiner can be seen engaging in a shouting match with an unidentified man in a yarmulke inside the Weiss Family Bakery in the Orthodox neighborhood of Boro Park.

The Weiner campaign later released a longer video revealing that the argument started when the shopper insulted Weiner and said, “married to an Arab” — a reference to his wife, Huma Abedin, whose family is from Saudi Arabia. The insult was first reported by Talking Points Memo.

Hearing the insult as he left the store, Weiner stopped, called the person who flung the insult a “jackass,” and returned inside to confront him.

Weiner proceeded to shout angrily at the man in a yalmuke for roughly two minutes as the man continued to criticize Weiner for his sexting scandal. “You did disgusting things, you have a nerve to even walk around in public,” the man says.

“And you’re a perfect person, you’re my judge?” Weiner said. “What rabbi taught you that, that you’re my judge?”

The man called him “a bad example” and told Weiner that his sexting amounted to “deviant” behavior.

“Stay out of the public, go home and get a job,” the man told Weiner.

After the encounter, an unseen man asked Weiner if he will forgive the man who confronted him, given that the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah was set to begin just hours later.

“Of course, of course, I don’t hold it against him,” Weiner said.

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Weiner Dodges Question on Circumcision Rite

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

getty images
Anthony Weiner

Newly minted New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner dodged a question at a mayoral debate last night on the controversial Jewish circumcision practice known as metzitzah b’peh.

The practice, which entails direct oral suction on an infant’s circumcised penis, has been blamed in a handful of cases of herpes. The city’s health department, under the urging of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, has instituted a regulation requiring parents to sign a consent form indicating that they are aware of the risk of herpes transmission before the practice can take place.

The Democratic mayoral candidates have previously mostly said that they support the regulation.

Weiner, when asked about his position on the consent forms at a forum in Manhattan Beach, didn’t address the question directly.

“For me, it comes down to my values as someone who believes in the ethos of New York, and part of that ethos of New York is we all come from different places, we bring different cultures, we bring different ideas,” Weiner said.

In his response, Weiner also cited a 2005 Forward report from his previous run for mayor in which he said that he opposed city regulation of the practice.

“It is not the place of the department of health to be deciding on a religious practice,” he told the Forward at the time.

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Does Anthony Weiner Have a Chance?

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

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Anthony Weiner

Anthony Weiner’s entry into the New York City mayoral contest further crowds a packed Democratic primary field and gives the race its first major Jewish candidate.

The disgraced ex-lawmaker, who resigned from Congress in 2011 after he sent racy pictures of himself to women online, announced his comeback candidacy in a YouTube video posted late Tuesday.

He enters the race late, giving opponents a major head start in building constituencies and attracting support. He also faces steep hurdles in overcoming the still-fresh sexting scandal.

A Quinnipiac poll posted today found that 49% of New York City voters think that Weiner should not run for mayor.

Jewish political insiders say that it may be too late for Weiner to amass major Jewish support, particularly in Brooklyn’s large Orthodox community. Orthodox political operatives are already long-committed to Weiner’s Democratic opponents.

“I think [Christine] Quinn, [Bill] de Blasio and [Bill] Thompson all have made major inroads into the Orthodox community,” said Ezra Friedlander, CEO of the Friedlander Group, a political consultancy, who backs Quinn in the race. “Weiner at one point was very popular and energetic representative for the community, but it’s going to be quite difficult for him to carve out his niche.”

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Mayor Anthony Weiner? It Could Happen.

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

getty images
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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'The Era of the So-Called Jewish Vote Is Over'

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

A new survey of New York’s Jews out today suggests the advent of a much more politically conservative Jewish community that could shift the balance of local New York politics.

The study, conducted by the UJA Federation of New York, knocks down old conceptions of what it means to be a New York Jew. The Jewish community is increasingly Orthodox and poor, with significant numbers of Russian-speaking members and decreasing levels of educational attainment.

“The Russians are not Democrats, and the Hasidim are not necessarily Democrats,” said Hank Sheinkopf, a conservative Democratic political strategist. “When somebody figures out how to put the Russians and the ultra-Orthodox together they’re going to come up with an atomic bomb in Democratic politics in New York State.”

The UJA survey was the largest of its kind ever conducted. As we reported earlier this morning, 32% of Jews in the five boroughs of New York City plus three suburban counties identify as Orthodox, up from 27% a decade ago.

Orthodox Jews are generally more political conservative, and are in greater need of social services than non-Orthodox Jews. Their numbers appear to be concentrated in Brooklyn, where the study found that 22% of Brooklynites are Jewish, up from 18% just ten years ago.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Bob turner, anthony weiner, brooklyn, david storobin, democratic, jewish, orthodox, politics, republican, russian

Shock and Irony: Poll Shows GOP Leading Dems for Weiner's Seat

By J.J. Goldberg

Shock now, irony later: The latest Siena poll shows Republican businessman Robert Turner leading Democratic state assemblyman David Weprin in the race to succeed Anthony Weiner in New York’s 9th Congressional District by a healthy 50%-44% margin.

The poll’s religious breakdown shows the Republican winning on the strength of a hefty Catholic showing, despite Jewish support for the Democrat. Catholic respondents favored Turner 62% to 33%, while Jewish voters backed Weprin 51% to 45%. (The poll questioned 886 respondents; the margin of error was 3.3%.)

The irony is that a Republican win will surely be trumpeted around the world as a Likud victory and evidence that Obama’s Middle East policies have done the unthinkable and shattered the century-old marriage of Jewish voters and the Democratic Party. Here’s CNN setting the stage for that trope August 10 in a report on the last Siena poll:

In one of the most Jewish districts in the country, Democrats have struggled to hold a wide lead as the campaign has turned into a competition over who’s a better friend of Israel.

While Weprin would be the only Orthodox Jew in the House of Representatives if elected, former New York City Mayor Ed Koch stirred controversy by endorsing Turner. Koch hoped his move would send a message to the White House that Jewish Americans are displeased with President Barack Obama’s policies on Israel.

Still, it’s a big-time “poll shocker,” as Politico.com aptly called it. Actually, that understates the case. The Democrats’ upstate upset victory last May 24 in the special election to replace Rep. Chris Lee was a shocker. A Republican victory in the heart of the Democrats’ home turf in Queens and Brooklyn might end up looking more like an earthquake. The Democrats own New York City. If they can lose in the boroughs, they’re reduced to fighting their way back from their last stronghold on the Upper West Side, like the forces of Middle Earth in their last stronghold in Gondor or the Israel Labor Party fighting to hold onto Givatayim.

The religious breakdown in the August poll showed Weprin doing slightly better in both groups: Turner led among Catholics by 55% to 37% and Weprin led among Jews 56% to 35%. Weprin was ahead overall at the point by 48% to 42% (501 likely voters polled, with a 4.4% margin of error).

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Anthony Weiner, David Weprin, Democrats, Ed Koch, Givatayim, Gondor, Israel Labor Party, Jewish Vote, Lord of the Rings, Republicans, Robert Turner, Siena Poll, Special Election

Poll Shows 'Surprisingly Close' Race for Weiner's Seat

By J.J. Goldberg

A new poll shows a “surprisingly close” race between the old-line Democrat and the relatively unknown Republican competing for Anthony Weiner’s congressional district in Queens and Brooklyn, Politico reports today.

The Siena Research Institute poll shows the Democrat, State Assemblyman David Weprin, leading Republican Bob Turner, a retired broadcast executive, by a relatively narrow 48 to 42 points in special election scheduled for September 13 in the traditionally Democratic district.

Politico reports:

Weprin has sought to cast Turner as a tea party-aligned candidate who is too conservative for the district. Turner, who has won endorsements from Long Island-based GOP Rep. Peter King and former New York City Mayor Ed Koch, has proclaimed himself to be the stronger supporter of Israel.

To be more precise, Koch has called on Jewish voters to support Turner, despite Weprin’s admittedly strong ties to Israel, in order to send a message to President Obama. As the Forward and JTA have reportedc, Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman endorsed Weprin, who is keeping his distance from Obama as he campaigns.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Siena Research Institute, Ed Koch, David Weprin, Bob Turner, Anthony Weiner, Special Election, Voter Polls

Weiner's Pinto Connection

By Jane Eisner

Getty Images
LeBron James: Another Pinto ‘Success’ Story

As if embattled U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner didn’t have enough problems, he’s now been linked to a charismatic rabbi whose associates have issues of their own. The New York Daily News is reporting that Weiner “regularly” stopped by the classes and holiday gatherings of Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto for spiritual advice and counseling. In return, the good rabbi instructed his followers to contribute to Weiner’s campaigns, raising over $300,000 for his 2009 abortive run for mayor, and for other elections, the Daily News said.

Readers of the Forward should recognize Pinto from the excellent stories by our Josh Nathan-Kazis. See here and here. Despite the rabbi’s reputation for modesty and business acumen, the $6.5 million townhouse where he lives with his family — owned by his organization, Mosdot Shuva Israel — was in foreclosure, and Mosdot was fined by the state for not paying workmen’s compensation to employees. Plus, Pinto’s top aide, Ben Zion Suky, has been tied to sales of pornography and legal troubles of his own.

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Weiner Mania: A Puny Vice Is Making Us Nuts

By J.J. Goldberg

David, the Original Weiner

After Nancy Pelosi asked the House Ethics Committee to look into the Anthony Weiner sex scandal, The Washington Post talked to the former staff director of both the House and Senate ethics committees, Robert Walker. He made the sensible point that there’s nothing to investigate unless somebody shows some evidence that a law or congressional rule was broken. “If the only evidence out there… clearly indicated that this was personal conduct only between consenting adults, I just don’t see a reason why the ethics committee would or should take it up,” Walker told the Post. “Even if people think it’s reprehensible conduct, that doesn’t mean it’s an ethics violation.”

So far there’s no evidence of either. Zip. What there is, is a whole lot of hand-wringing about how awful men behave, how something has gone wrong with the American male (here is Rabbi Shmuley ‘Kosher Sex’ Boteach explaining how Weiner embodies the Broken American Male, and here and here he is beating the topic to death, and he’s hardly the only one) as though we had somehow just discovered that men are horny bastards who can’t keep their zippers up. Hasn’t anybody ever heard of King David and Bathsheba? Joshua and Rahab the harlot? Thomas Jefferson?

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Shmuley Boteach, Robert Walker, Nancy Pelosi, Martin Luther King Jr., Lee Siegel, John F. Kennedy, House Ethics Committee, John Ensign, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, David Vitter, Anthony Weiner




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