The Shmooze

Ikea Founder’s Nazi Ties Confirmed

By Michael Kaminer

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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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Q&A: 'Hardcore Pawn' Stars Les and Seth Gold

By Curt Schleier

truTV

Slow down, guys — “Hardcore Pawn” is not what it sounds like. It’s actually a hit show for the truTV cable network about third-generation pawnbroker Les Gold and his family, and their 50,000-square-foot business, American Jewelry and Loan.

Located in the tough Eight Mile section of Detroit, the business has customers lining up outside hours before it opens, to hock their valuables. The Forward’s Curt Schleier spoke with Gold, 61, and his son and business partner, Seth Gold, 30.

Curt Schleier: How did you get into this business?

Les Gold: My grandfather opened his pawn shop in the mid-’40s, at Michigan and Fifth…. I was 7 years old when I made my first sale.

Did your grandfather or father push you to get into this line of work?

L.G.: I knew I was going into the same business.… It was my decision to open the first suburban pawn shop in A Detroit area [mall], in Oak Park, a normally Jewish area where I was raised as a child…. It was in transition. The Jews were moving out, and the area was changing.

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Glenn Beck Gears Up For Big Jerusalem Show

By Nathan Burstein

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Glenn Beck’s back in Israel this week, in a trip that will conclude tomorrow with a program held at Jerusalem’s Davidson Center, not far from the Western Wall. This is the second visit by Beck since the end of his inflammatory run as a host at Fox News, and the first since July, when he was warmly greeted by right-wing members of the Knesset.

Struggling for relevancy in the U.S. since the end of his Fox News show in June, Beck hasn’t drawn significant attention from regular Israelis — despite effusive expressions of support for the country, and his decision to weigh in last week on ongoing social protests across the country. (Ready as usual to employ polarizing, highly questionable language, he compared the mostly middle-class demonstrators to communists.)

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When Circumcision Becomes Amputation

By Nathan Burstein

iStockphoto

The Shmooze can think of at least one guy who won’t be performing a bris anytime soon.

John Patterson, a doctor at Jewish Hospital in Louisville, Ky., is in court this week, facing a lawsuit for amputating a penis during what was intended to be a circumcision. He’s being sued by Phillip Seaton, who’s already reached an undisclosed settlement with the hospital out of court.

Patterson was supposed to circumcise Seaton in 2007 because of “inflammation” — but says he amputated the tip of his patient’s penis after discovering a potentially fatal form of cancer during the procedure.

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Israeli Pop Star Margol’s Mug Shots Leaked

By Renee Ghert-Zand

According to a report by Israel’s Channel 2 News, someone is going to be in big trouble. And it’s likely going to be someone working in the Israeli Prison Authority.

Apparently, someone has leaked mug shots of Israeli singer and celebrity Margalit Tzanani (often referred to in the Israeli press by the nickname Margol) taken at the time of her arrest last week on the suspicion that she blackmailed, threatened and extorted her manager. The possibility that she was also involved in fixing the outcome of the Israeli “American Idol”-style show “Kochav Nolad” has been batted around in the press since her arrest.

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Jon Voight Visits Terrorism Victims at Soroka Hospital

By Renee Ghert-Zand

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He’s known to many as the father of superstar and international do-gooder Angelina Jolie, but Jon Voight is also recognized as a longtime supporter of Israel. The actor made a Chabad-sponsored trip over the weekend to Israel, surprising victims of last week’s terrorist attacks and the ongoing missile barrages from Gaza with a visit to Soroka Hospital in Beer Sheva.

Voight told reporters who met up with him at the hospital, on his way to cheer up the critically wounded victims, that this was his third visit to the country, and his second to the South. He specifically mentioned that he had been in Sderot last time and had to take cover there when an alarm sounded, so he knows what the security situation for residents of the Negev is like.

The actor emphasized that Israel needs friends, and that he thought that the U.S. should be Israel’s best friend. He has been a vocal advocate for Israel, having appeared at a rally in Los Angeles last year condemning Turkey’s role in the Flotilla incident, and having written a letter to President Obama accusing the Administration of abandoning Israel.

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NYC Slashes Funding for Folksbiene Yiddish Theater

By Michael Kaminer

Under a rather unfortunate headline alluding to chopped pork, the New York Daily News this weekend reported that the “venerable” Folksbiene Yiddish Theater will lose a $5,000 earmark from New York City Councilman Mark Weprin (D-Queens).

The 96-year-old Folksbiene — “the last Yiddish company to still play to huge audiences in Manhattan’s lower East Side,” according to the News — tops a list of 52 groups “that have had their City Council-sponsored pork-barrel items suddenly yanked back.”

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‘Twilight’ Star Kristen Stewart Discovered Singing Dreidel Song

By Nathan Burstein

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Lana Turner was supposedly discovered at a soda shop while skipping school. Natalie Portman attracted attention while eating pizza on Long Island. And “Twilight” star Kristen Stewart? She was singing about a dreidel.

That’s the story Stewart is sharing in the new issue of W magazine, in which she says a holiday play was the first step on her path to Hollywood.

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Meet the Two Most Popular JDaters

By Lucy Cohen Blatter

iStockphoto

Apparently, it’s a nice smile and friendly energy that’ll get you noticed on JDate. The New York Post rounded up New York City’s most popular online daters (based on the number of messages in their inbox) — and pinpointed two JDaters — Alla Kellerman, 34, and David Fischer, 39.

Kellerman, who says she’s looking for a husband on the site, has 392 messages in her inbox. Many of her would-be suitors comment on her nice smile. But what does she look for in a man? The first thing is a photo: “If you don’t have a photo, then I won’t even click on you,” she tells the Post. Once she likes a photo, she says she checks out a guy’s height and occupation.

Fischer, who says he uses online dating to open him up to people outside his social circle, has 334 messages in his inbox, which he attributes to the “friendly energy and good vibe” his photos offer. He responds to about one out of 10 people, and active types — Cameron Diaz and Mila Kunis look-alikes, especially — are welcome.

The Shmooze wishes Fischer and Kellerman the best of luck in finding their besherts. Might the two hit it off?


Michele Bachmann’s Letter From the Kibbutz

By Nathan Burstein

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The Shmooze experienced a twinge of guilt last month when it poked fun at Michele Bachmann’s mispronunciation of “chutzpah” during an interview on Fox News. Yes, her use of the word may have been a shameless attempt at pandering to Jewish voters. But was it really fair to expect a Protestant from the Midwest to know Yiddish?

In the case of Bachmann, at least, the answer turns out to be yes!

The GOP presidential candidate spent time on a kibbutz during the mid-’70s, but apparently didn’t absorb much in terms of the local language. (No, Yiddish isn’t the language of Israel, but “chutzpah” has certainly made it into the local lexicon.) In a letter, Bachmann conceded that the locals had better language skills, admitting she “[felt] so stupid” next to Ziva and Hagar, young kibbutz residents who “can speak English so well.”

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After Delay, Jerusalem's New Light Rail System Opens With Many Kinks

By Renee Ghert-Zand

For those of you who drive in Jerusalem, you know that pedestrians just stepping out into the street without looking can be a big problem. Well now it could end up being an even bigger problem as the city’s new light rail system finally starts running today, after years of delay.

The system, which is opening years behind schedule, still has many kinks to work out. They include air conditioning issues, electrical and communications glitches and the operation of the ticketing system — the latter leading to the declaration that passengers will ride free for the first two weeks.

Another problem not completely solved is

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UK Soccer Website Gives 'Jewish Star' To Those Who Donate Least

By Renee Ghert-Zand

The Jewish Chronicle in the UK reports that an Arsenal football (that’s soccer to us Americans) team fan website is kicking up an anti-Semitic controversy. The fan forum, called We Are The Herd, is posting Stars of David next to the names of site members who have paid the least in the ways of membership dues and donations.

We Are The Herd claims to be an alternative fan organization that eschews what it reportedly views as the overly politically correct atmosphere that football officials are trying to create around the sport. Football has been notoriously connected to racism and anti-Semitism, especially among the fans in the stands.

The British Jewish community’s Community Security Trust, which fights bigotry, anti-Semitism and terrorism, issued a statement condemning this activity. A spokesman was quoted as saying, “This kind of casual and pervasive anti-Semitism is quite disgusting. Arsenal fans, both Jewish and non-Jewish, must intervene to stop this kind of nonsense.”

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Video: Ehud Barak, Israeli Minister of Camera Angles?

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Some Israelis are suggesting that Ehud Barak’s portfolio be changed from Minister of Defense to Minister of Camera Angles, after he was caught on camera giving stage directions to the commander of the IDF’s Southern Command as he briefed the press on the terrorist attacks earlier today near Eilat.

As Major General Tal Russo was giving a detailed description of the terrorists’ incursion into Israeli territory and their attack on a public bus and private vehicles, Barak was caught on video interrupting the commander. “Tal, you don’t understand these things. You need to look over there at the cameras,” Barak said as he pointed to said cameras. Then he chuckled. It can be imagined that Russo, who continued his debriefing without reacting to Barak’s comments, was not amused. Neither was an aide, standing behind Barak, who could be heard admonishing the Minister, “There’s already a director here, you know.”

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