The Whole Megillah: A Weekly News Roundup

By Danny Groner

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Here’s a look at what else is going on in politics, culture and media.

Wisconsin: A Jewish fight Some Jews in Wisconsin are joining the protests in Madison, fighting against Gov. Scott Walker’s plans to eliminate most collective-bargaining rights for public-sector employees, reported the Jewish Standard. And why shouldn’t they, wrote Laurie Zimmerman in JTA, who attended the protests last weekend. She said her group demonstrated “Jewish expression for our deepest values” of charitable acts, justice, community, and compromise. “The governor’s legislation threatens these values.” Besides, it echoes the Jewish narrative, said Elissa Barrett and Aryeh Cohen in the Jewish Journal. “Jewish tradition has been clear and consistent—the treatment of workers and their right to organize are among the basic underpinnings of a just society … Our heritage, as the sweatshop workers and copper miners of yesterday, bears witness to it. Our tradition compels it.”

J Street’s annual conference Leftist pro-Israel lobby group J Street hosted its second annual conference in Washington, D.C., this week, the group’s largest gathering so far, according to, well, us. Many attendees were put off by speaker Dennis Ross’s address, who “in some clever ways communicated to J Street that its agenda and strategy are out of touch with reality,” wrote the Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin. Larger questions remain about J Street’s role in Middle East diplomacy. “In their mind, standing up for Palestinian rights, criticizing Israel’s policies in the West Bank and advocating for more pressure on the Israeli government, said Uriel Heilman at JTA, “is a way of supporting Israel by helping, or forcing, Israel to become the kind of place they believe it ought to be.” No matter where you stand on the issues, maybe some good can come of the strong turnout. “Why can’t we bring 2,000 Israelis together for an intensive three-day seminar focused on justice, democracy, peace and security? We have a lot to learn from J Street,” said Gershon Baskin in the Jerusalem Post.

Glenn Beck apologizes The Reform movement accepted Glenn Beck’s apology for comparing Reform Judaism to radical Islam, reported JTA. In his on-air apology, Beck called it “one of the worst analogies of all time.” This time he went too far, said William Browning at Yahoo. Beck does this kind of thing a lot, and he should be dismissed for it. “Murdoch is just as guilty by association” for standing by the host. While Beck’s comments weren’t justified, “the response portraying this as the last straw for Beck’s career is absurd,” said John Hayward at Human Events. “Beck says some weird stuff, and makes his share of mistakes,” but so do other commentators. He’s not going anywhere.

Jewish man on trial in Cuba A Maryland man goes on trial later this week accused of allegedly smuggling in satellite communication devices prohibited under Cuban law, reported CBS News. Alan Gross, who has been jailed for the past 15 months, was detained in 2009 on his way out of the country, after Cuban authorities accused him of being a spy, according to World Jewish Congress. His family argues that Gross was simply helping the 1,500 Cuban Jews communicate with other Jewish communities through the Internet. Releasing him “could only help to foster improved relations between the United States and Cuba,” wrote Rev. Jesse Jackson in an open letter to Cuban President Raul Castro. Find the “moral courage and authority to free Mr. Gross,” Jackson exhorted. If convicted, Gross could face up to 20 years in prison.

What does the London Olympics logo have to do with Israel? Iran is threatening a boycott of the 2012 summer Olympics as a result of a claim that the games’ approved logo resembles the word “Zion,” reported The New York Times. Olympics officials dismissed the accusation (though this isn’t the first objection to the logo). If you “squint” you can come close to seeing the word, but “you could also see a sassy-looking man bending to his side doing the Egyptian dance if you wanted to,” said the Examiner’s Phillip Suderman. Seriously, “enough is enough. Let’s not cause a fire where there’s nothing to burn,” remarked Mihaela Lica Butler at EverythingPR. Does Iran really see it differently? “Go ahead, President Obama, reason with these folks,” said one Pajamas Media blogger.

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