J.J. Goldberg

Watch: Obama Kills at Correspondents Dinner

By J.J. Goldberg

Getty Images
At the White House Correspondents Dinner.

President Obama was in rare form at the annual White House Correspondents Dinner on Saturday, delivering zingers at House Republican leaders, Fox News, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and his own Obamacare troubles. His best line of the evening, the pundits seem to agree, was this one aimed at House Speaker John Boehner:

I’m feeling sorry — believe it or not — for the speaker of the House as well. These days, the House Republicans actually give John Boehner a harder time than they give me, which means orange really is the new black.

But the most outrageous lines came from comedian Joel McHale, the star of NBC’s Community and host of E Network’s The Soup. The workover he gave Christie must have set some sort of record. He opened his act by promising to keep it “amusing and over quickly, just like Chris Christie’s presidential bid.” Later, he asked, “Governor, do you want bridge jokes or size jokes? I could go half and half — I know you like a combo platter.” Then he did an incredible parody of Christie’s Bridgegate response, saying his joke was inappropriate but while it was written by his staff he took full responsibility and would appoint an independent investigation headed by himself to find out whose fault it was. But why read my summary? Watch it below.

New York magazine’s Caroline Bankoff put together a pretty good roundup of the evening, including useful statistics on how many jokes each were aimed at CNN, Fox and MSNBC and who was the most ragged-on politician of the evening (Christie). And Fox has a full transcript of Obama’s remarks, which shows either that they’re masochists deep down or that they want to use it to get their base riled up, perhaps hoping to emulate the ADL’s success in taking down Nation of Islam leader Khalid Abdul Muhammad in 1993 by running his anti-Semitic ravings as a full-page ad.

Here are the videos of Obama’s and McHale’s routines, in full:

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N.J. Hillel Hosts 1-Stater. Relax, She's Right-Winger

By J.J. Goldberg

Caroline Glick / Wikimedia Commons

From the New Jersey Jewish News comes word that the campus Hillel at Rutgers, the state university of New Jersey, recently sponsored an appearance by a militant one-stater. The program was co-sponsored by, among others, two nearby Jewish federations including the state’s largest, the Jewish Federation of MetroWest (through its Jewish community relations committee).

You might think there’s a scandal brewing. But not likely. The one-stater in question is the fiery right-wing Israeli columnist Caroline Glick, senior contributing editor of the Jerusalem Post. Glick’s new book “The Israeli Solution: A One-State Plan for Peace in the Middle East” calls for Israeli annexation of the West Bank, a position she’s advocated for years. She’s vehemently opposed to the two-state solution. Her March 11 talk was also cosponsored by the equally one-statist Zionist Organization of America. It was “supported” by the Jewish Federation of Greater Middlesex County, where Rutgers is located.

Whether Glick’s Rutgers appearance violates the much-discussed national Hillel guidelines governing campus programming is probably a matter of interpretation. Contrary to popular belief, the guidelines don’t actually say anything about potential speakers supporting a two-state solution. They say that Hillel “will not partner with, house, or host” organizations or speakers that “Deny the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish and democratic state with secure and recognized borders.” Unlike, say, AIPAC, which “strongly supports a two-state solution,” Hillel has no opinion on the matter.

Some people might argue that annexing the West Bank would result in an Israel that is either not Jewish or not democratic, but Glick and most of her fellow Zionist one-staters don’t agree. Most tend to dismiss the demographic projections that show Jews becoming a minority. Others come up with theoretical Israeli constitutional arrangements that somehow add up to a state that’s Jewish in character and still democratic. Their claims might not seem plausible, but there’s nothing in the guidelines about plausibility.

Where Glick and others like her might run afoul of the guidelines is in a separate clause that bars speakers who “foster an atmosphere of incivility.” The guidelines don’t define “incivility,” so we’re left again with a matter of interpretation. But Glick devotes a huge proportion of her writing to tearing down those who disagree with her and branding them as enemies of Israel and the Jewish people. I haven’t done a statistical analysis, but it seems as though she spends more time attacking Jews she disagrees with—along with allies of Israel, beginning with President Obama and his secretary of state—than advancing her own ideas.

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First They Came for the Sharia Court. Then They Came for the Bet Din

By J.J. Goldberg

Andy Silow-Carroll, the inestimable editor of the New Jersey Jewish News, offers a devastating dissection of the Sharia-phobia, as he calls it, that is invading our public and, via a certain cable channel, our living rooms as well.

The news lede for his column is a recent ruling by a New Jersey court, dismissing a Muslim woman’s request for a restraining order against her ex-husband, whom she accused of sexual abuse while they were married. Judge Joseph Charles “ruled that her ex-husband did not have ‘criminal desire to or intent to sexually assault’ her. Rather, he was exercising his prerogatives as the man understood them under Islamic law, or Sharia.”

The story appeared on the Fox News website under the headline, “Advocates of Anti-Shariah Measures Alarmed by Judge’s Ruling.” Carroll notes that the article only quoted one anti-Sharia advocate, but that the Web is rife with blog posts on the case, with titles like “New Jersey: the new hotspot of Sharia” and “Sharia judge in NJ gets lifetime appointment.” He continues:

The idea that America is this close to having the Constitution replaced by the Koran used to be a fringe notion, but has inched closer to the mainstream thanks to “Islamist watchdog” bloggers like Daniel Pipes and Pamela Geller and was given a huge boost by Newt Gingrich. “The fight against shariah and the maddrassas and mosques which teach hatred and fanaticism is the heart of the enemy movement from which the terrorists spring forth,” Gingrich told the American Enterprise Institute, where he is a senior fellow. “One of the things I am going to suggest today is a federal law which says no court anywhere in the United States under any circumstance is allowed to consider shariah as a replacement for American law.”

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