The Shmooze

More Accusations From Sara Netanyahu's Former Employee

By Nathan Burstein

Another day, another round of embarrassment for the Netanyahu family.

Tara Mela, the Nepalese household worker injured during an argument with Sara Netanyahu, gave a press conference yesterday, in which she alleged further mistreatment by Israel’s first family. A caretaker for Sara Netanyahu’s 96-year-old father, Mela claimed she was fired last night and had not been allowed to enter the Netanyahu residence - where she lived - to collect her things. (She later received them through an intermediary.) Yohanna Lerman, the lawyer representing her, said that preventing Mela from gathering her personal belongings would be a violation of Israeli law.

Mela and her lawyer also claimed she had been denied pay and vacation time, and that Mela’s right to privacy had been violated when the doctor who treated her made public details of her injury.

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Australian Man Suspected of Grisly Murder in Tel Aviv

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Husband-wife trips don’t always work out well, but this one turned out far, far worse than the usual bad vacation.

Israeli police were summoned to a hotel room on the 15th floor of Tel Aviv’s Dan Panorama hotel earlier this week to find Australian tourist John Paul Sebastian with the body of his 54-year-old wife, who had been stabbed multiple times in the neck and upper body. Sebastian was arrested on the spot.

Sebastian, 45, from Melbourne, is facing possible murder charges, but in the meantime is being held for eight days for psychiatric evaluation. He claimed that he was compelled to kill his wife because she was an enemy agent “with a written agreement that meant she owned him.” Even more bizarre was his assertion that she had forced him to eat raw meat and human flesh.

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Worker Broke Her Own Finger, Netanyahus Say

By Nathan Burstein

iStockphoto

Israel’s first lady was afraid of her Nepalese employee.

That’s the updated version of events from the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a day after his publicity team acknowledged that a domestic worker dislocated her finger during an argument with the prime minister’s scandal-prone wife.

The still-unnamed worker “responded with an uncontrollable burst of rage” after Sara Netanyahu made a comment about her work, “knocking herself to the ground and smashing into the floor and furniture,” according to a statement released today by the prime minister’s office. “Mrs. Netanyahu feared these bursts of anger [and] alerted her security team, which arrived within seconds.”

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Diabetic? Try a Therapeutic Dip in the Dead Sea

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Ester Inbar, via Wikimedia Commons

For many, going down to the Dead Sea to bathe in its mineral-rich waters is a sweet treat. Now, researchers are finding that just the opposite is true for diabetics — which is a good thing. A preliminary study has shown that diabetics who immersed themselves in the uniquely salty water were able to significantly reduce their blood sugar levels.

While it is too early to say that Type 2 diabetics will be able to replace their insulin shots or medications with relaxing dips in the Dead Sea, the researchers from Ben-Gurion University and Soroka Medical Center in Beer Sheva are pleased with their findings thus far.

They used a sample of 14 individuals of varying ages with Type 2 diabetes and had them each take a 20-minute dip in a pool filled with water taken from the Dead Sea. The scientists found that the diabetics’ blood glucose levels dropped by 13.5 percent when they were tested immediately upon leaving the water. An hour later, the subjects’ blood sugar levels went down even more.

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London: Stop Posing Next to the Wax Statue of Hitler

By Nathan Burstein

Getty Images
A similar wax figure sits behind glass at Madame Tussauds Berlin.

Displaying a statue of Hitler strikes the Shmooze as an inherently bad idea — and sure enough, the one at Madame Tussauds in London is causing problems.

England’s Zionist Federation has asked the wax-statue museum to alter its Hitler figure, suggesting it be made to look more “vulnerable,” or posed in a way that prevents visitors from posing next to it.

The request comes after complaints by Israeli tourists who were upset to see other Madame Tussauds visitors giving the Nazi salute to the wax dictator. The Zionist Federation has made clear that it is not protesting the museum’s right to display a Hitler statue, but that it would prefer it be done in a different manner.

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Caretaker Breaks Finger, Accuses Sara Netanyahu

By Nathan Burstein

Getty Images

For the sake of his own political career, Benjamin Netanyahu might want to keep his wife away from household workers.

For the second time in less than two years, Israel’s first lady is being accused of serious mistreatment by an employee, an allegation that is now soaring to the top of Israel’s headlines. This time the complaint involves an as-yet unnamed foreign worker, who says she fell during an argument with Netanyahu. “She ran toward me, she came in my direction,” the worker told Channel 2 News, the country’s highest-rated nightly news program. “I got scared and moved back, then fell backwards and broke my finger.”

The dispute allegedly began over financial transfers from an account held by Sara Netanyahu’s elderly father, for whom the domestic worker provides care.

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Shofar Flash Mob Set for September 18

By Renee Ghert-Zand

iStockphoto

Dust off those rams’ horns and keep checking your Facebook updates and Twitter feeds. There’s going to be a worldwide shofar flash mob on September 18 and you are not going to want to miss it.

Art Kibbutz NYC is hosting “the greatest Shofar-blowing event since Sinai” as a massive call for teshuvah during the month of Elul. To the extent possible, the flash mobs will be coordinated across various global locations. All the flash mobs will be recorded and combined by a composer into an electronic Rosh Hashanah greeting card.

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‘Israel’s Best Friend’ Dogs Trained To Attack

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Just as we are getting word that the IDF is training West Bank Settlers to handle possible confrontations with Palestinians following the expected vote in the U.N. General Assembly in favor of Palestinian statehood, a rather disturbing video has surfaced about another defense force, the IBF.

IBF stands for Israel’s Best Friend, a non-profit organization that trains dogs for what it calls a “Civilian Attack Dog Unit,” and the “K9 Jewish Legion.” According to the video and the description posted with it on YouTube, the dogs’ mission is to defend Jews specifically against Arabs and Muslims.

That’s a whiff of racism, along with some dog poop, that you smell. As many believe, racism is learned behavior, and it appears that even canines can be taught to be racist.

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Why is Rachel Weisz Wearing a Cross Pendant?

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Getty Images

We’ve noted the recent trend of non-Jewish celebrities and public figures wearing Jewish jewelry. Remember Sarah Palin’s big Magen David pendant and Elijah Wood’s ring inscribed with a quote from Pirkei Avot? Now the Shmooze wonders why Jewish actress Rachel Weisz has started the reverse trend by wearing a cross — and one that costs $6,400.

Weisz, whose full name is Rachel Hannah Weisz and who refused to change her identifiably Jewish name for the sake of her career, can be seen in the Wall Street Journal’s latest glossy fashion supplement modeling menswear-inspired ensembles. The attractive actress looks great in all those tailored pants and jackets, including one outfit comprised of a jacket by Michael Kors, a The Row t-shirt from Barneys and trousers by Pringle of Scotland. The text with that photo also mentions that her bra (noticeable through the sheer t-shirt) is by Dolce & Gabbana and her pendant (that would be the aforementioned cross) is by De Beers.

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Helen Mirren’s Sparkly Jewish Roots?

By Lucy Cohen Blatter

Getty Images

In her latest film, “The Debt,” British actress Helen Mirren plays retired Mossad agent Rachel Singer. And in a recent interview with the New York Times Magazine’s Andrew Goldman, the Oscar-winning actress (and Dame!) discussed the possibility of having Jewish roots.

When asked if she might be “a secret Jew,” and — like Madeleine Albright — find out later in life that she was actually Jewish, Mirren answered, “I wouldn’t be surprised … My mum came from the working-class East End of London, where the Jewish immigrants began their journey in English society. I’ve always thought I might have either some Jewish or some Gypsy, one or the other,” she said.

When Goldman asked whether she’s ever had moments when she thought, “Oh, I feel very Jewish,” Mirren answered: “My love of sparkle. I don’t think that’s particularly Jewish or Gypsy, but I do have a certain love of sparkle.”

We’re not quite sure what that last part means, but we’d be happy to welcome her to the tribe!


Speyer Hosts First Jewish Wedding in 70 Years

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Many German citizens — at least the royal wedding watchers among them — will be caught up in the festivities this weekend of the marriage of two descendents of royal families. Georg Friedrich Ferdinand, Prince of Prussia, and Sophie Johanna Maria, Princess of Isenburg (who are really just private German citizens since the country’s aristocracy was stripped of their titles way back in 1919), will be saying their “I do’s” on the grounds of a former royal palace in Potsdam.

Meanwhile, another notable wedding has taken place recently in the German town of Speyer. There was no royalty involved, but the event did have historic importance. For the first time in 70 years, a Jewish simcha — in this case, a wedding — took place in the ancient city.

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'Real Housewife' Not an Anti-Semite, Says the ADL

By Nathan Burstein

Getty Images

She’s America’s most famous table flipper, but Teresa Giudice is not an anti-Semite.

Both the Anti-Defamation League and the “Real Housewife of New Jersey” herself have weighed in on the matter, following a comment on the show’s most recent episode that seemed to suggest the stereotype of money-obsessed Jews.

Though her husband’s facing bankruptcy and forgery charges, Giudice will stand by his side, the reality star announced on Sunday’s episode. That was the gist, anyway, but that’s not how she phrased things on-air. “I mean, my Jewish friends are all, ‘I would have divorced him right away!’ But I’m Italian” were her actual words.

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Ikea Founder’s Nazi Ties Confirmed

By Michael Kaminer

Getty Images
Shopping carts at Ikea Berlin.

You might want to sit down in your Skrurvska chair before reading this. A new book claims Ingvar Kamprad, the billionaire founder of cheap-furniture behemoth IKEA, “was a member of the Swedish Nazi party and was such a concern to secret service they opened a file on him,” reports the U.K. Telegraph.

While the 83-year-old businessman’s far-right leanings have long been public, a 1943 file proves for the first time that Kamprad “was an active member of Svensk Socialistisk Samling — the successor to the Swedish Nationalist Socialist Workers Party — even his membership number, 4013,” the Telegraph said.

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Glenn Beck Wraps Up Visit With Rally Near the Western Wall

By Nathan Burstein

Getty Images

It featured a shofar and showtunes, and unfolded without incident.

Glenn Beck wrapped up his much-debated trip to Israel today with a rally near the Western Wall, where the former Fox News star entered to the blast of the shofar in what at times resembled a religious ceremony. “This is the throne of the Lord,” Beck said of the setting, where 1,700 supporters gathered to hear him express support for Israel and the Jewish people. The audience included both Israeli and American right-wingers, among them settlers and GOP presidential candidate Hermain Cain. Attendees reportedly paid $5,000 for the show, which took place under tight security and was broadcast, according to Beck, at 1,400 venues on four continents.

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Woody Allen Headed To Munich?

By Nathan Burstein

Getty Images

Holocaust obsessive Woody Allen could be making his next movie in Germany.

The Hollywood Reporter says the filmmaker, currently shooting “The Bop Decameron” in Rome, is in talks to make Munich the scene of his next film. Still enjoying the success of “Midnight in Paris” — the highest-grossing movie in his six-decade career — Allen is negotiating with Bavaria Studios for financing for the film, which would cost $17 million and shoot next summer. The untitled movie would add another country to the list of recent European settings for Allen’s films — among them Shmooze favorites “Match Point” (set in England) and “Vicky Cristina Barcelona.”

Working with Allen would surely be a coup for Bavaria Studios, whose website lists previous collaborators including European-born Jew Billy Wilder, who made a string of classics including “Sunset Blvd.” and “Some Like It Hot” after moving to Hollywood in the ’30s.

The studio also worked with Max Ophuls, whose World War II/Holocaust documentary “The Sorrow and the Pity” is famously discussed by Allen and the title character in “Annie Hall.”


Tony Blair’s Sister-in-Law is a Pro-Palestinian Activist

By Renee Ghert-Zand

You know that one really embarrassing relative you wish you didn’t have? Well, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has one of those, too.

Her name is Lauren Booth, and she is a pro-Palestinian activist and journalist working for Iran’s English language TV channel. And she happens to be Blair’s sister-in-law (Booth is Blair’s wife Cherie’s half-sister).

It must be more than a bit awkward for Blair, a long-time supporter of Israel and Middle East envoy for the United Nations, European Union, United States and Russia, to know that Booth was out in London’s Trafalgar Square this past Sunday calling for Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt to march on Jerusalem and liberate it from Israel — a nation she says does not exist.

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If Not Illegal Drugs, Then What Killed Amy Winehouse?

By Renee Ghert-Zand

While some are still trying to determine whether Amy Winehouse was a nice Jewish girl or not, others are continuing to engage in ongoing speculation as to the cause of the late singer’s death in July.

Rather than putting minds at ease, Winehouse’s family’s announcement yesterday that tests showed that there were no illegal substances found in her body is fueling even further debate about why she died. And we can expect every expert — not to mention pseudo-expert — to be putting forth his or her forensic theory until the formal cause of death is released to the public in October.

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Rick Perry’s Mezuzah

By Nathan Burstein

Getty Images

First there was the Sarah Palin sheitel. Now there’s the Rick Perry mezuzah.

Los Angeles-based MezuzahStore.com has created a large stone mezuzah in honor of the Texas governor, a tribute that follows Perry’s June signing of a law that explicitly protects the right of state residents to post religious objects outside their doors. The law was a response to a legal case brought forward by a Jewish couple in Houston after their homeowners association demanded they remove their mezuzah.

Described by the Web site as a “Texas style mezuzah,” the piece costs $999 — and, at 26 inches, reflects the maxim that “everything’s bigger in Texas.”

Potential buyers should act fast - for the moment, at least, only one Rick Perry mezuzah has been made.


Student Expelled For Abuse of Israeli Flag

By Nathan Burstein

Of all the ways in which people express their contempt for Israel, this is a new one: putting pubic hair on an Israeli flag.

A student at St. Andrews University in Scotland has been expelled for doing just that, during a drunken incident in the room of a Jewish student.

Paul Donnachie, a 19-year-old student at Prince William’s alma mater, will need to enroll elsewhere now that the episode has been ruled a “racist breach of the peace.” The irony — all too familiar in these cases — is that Donnachie fancies himself a crusader for tolerance, saying after the ruling, “I’m a member of anti-racism campaigns, and I am devastated that as someone who has fought against racism, I have been tarnished in this way.”

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Katy Perry Angers Fans With 'Pray for Israel' Tweet

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Getty Images

It seems that some Katy Perry fans have proven they can turn “Hot N Cold” at the mere posting of a tweet. While some were getting hot under the collar, others were now giving their once-favorite singer the cold shoulder.

Why? Because, as conservative writer, columnist and Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin wrote on her blog today, Perry offered a sympathetic response Monday to a fan in Israel who asked her by Twitter to pray for Israel (presumably because it was under a missile attack from Gaza at the time). “I am! My prayers are for you guys tonight, SHALOM!!!…@katyperry #prayforisrael please pray with us.”

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