The Shmooze

Underwear Ads Irk North London Orthodox

By Renee Ghert-Zand

While some Haredim in Jerusalem have succeeded in getting images of women removed from public advertising there, the Orthodox community in North London has had less luck on that front.

In London, it is not all women’s images they find offensive, but rather those of Calvin Klein models wearing nothing but their skimpy underwear on the sides of public buses driving on routes through Orthodox neighborhoods. According to the Jewish Chronicle, “a claim that a lingerie advert placed on buses that ran through Stamford Hill was ‘offensive’ and ‘irresponsible’ has been rejected by the advertisers’ watchdog because there was ‘no explicit nudity.’”

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Haim Amsallem Launches Moderate Haredi Party

By Nathan Jeffay

One of the most remarkable things about covering Israeli politics is watching parties come and go. People have an amazing willingness to support a brand new party with no track record.

Earlier this month Yair Lapid, journalist and icon of secular middle-class Israelis, announced he was entering politics. As the Forward reported, before he even announced what his party would be called and who its other candidates would be, polls showed that he would win between seven and 20 of the Knesset’s 120 seats. Now, the religious community has its own Yair Lapid-like phenomenon.

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DSK’s Wife To Head French HuffPo

By Renee Ghert-Zand

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Perhaps in an attempt to put her husband’s very public sexual assault scandal behind her, Anne Sinclair is throwing herself into her work. The former television journalist and wife of Dominque Strauss-Kahn has been named editor of the soon-to-be-launched French version of the Huffington Post.

Ariana Huffington herself will be on hand in Paris on January 23 to formally announce the launch of the news and opinion website, as well as Sinclair’s appointment.

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Hitler Bunker To Become Tourist Stop

By Renee Ghert-Zand

It looks as though there might be another site added to the Polish Holocaust tourism trail. According to Reuters, Poland is searching for someone to spruce up the Wolf’s Lair, in the northeast of the country, near the Russian border, and open it up to the public.

“Wolf’s Lair” was the code name for Adolf Hitler’s heavily fortified bunker complex, where Hitler and his top officers were protected from bombardment during Operation Barbarossa, otherwise known as the German invasion of Russia. The fortress, which was built in 1940-1941, had its own power plant and railway station. The German forces destroyed it as they retreated in early 1945.

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Jewish Billionaire Owns Sunken Cruise Ship

By Michael Kaminer

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Arison outside the Waldorf-Astoria for NBA negotiations in September 2011

An old joke used to blame the Titanic disaster on the Jews because of the “Iceberg.”

But in the case of this week’s sinking of the Costa Concordia cruise ship, there actually is a Jewish connection.

According to JTA, Jewish billionaire Micky Arison is the owner of the capsized luxury liner. The Israeli-American businessman is CEO and chairman of Carnival Corp., the company that operates the cruise line whose ship ran aground off the Italian coast. Arison, who also owns the National Basketball Association’s Miami Heat, is the head of the Carnival Corp., of which Costa Cruises is a subsidiary, JTA said. Carnival operates 101 ships with brands including P&O, Cunard and Princess Cruises, and accounts for almost half of the global cruise market, according to The Wall Street Journal.

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Office Workers Face Sex-Segregated Elevators

By Nathan Jeffay

iStock

Lots of people have claimed in recent weeks that gender segregation is reaching new heights. But never before has the charge been so, well, literal. Making your way up in an elevator should be, according to some members of the Haredi pro-segregation lobby, a single-gender affair.

According to a press report signs have gone up in ultra-Orthodox city of Modiin Illit’s business centers asking men and women to use separate elevators. Some locals tore them down, but others posted new signs to replace them, claiming that they represented the wishes of members of the community.

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Jeff Goldblum To Play Gay Jewish Dad on 'Glee'

By Nathan Burstein

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“Glee” fans have long known about Rachel Berry’s gay Jewish dad, but they’ve never seen him.

That’ll change on Valentine’s Day, when the character will finally make an appearance in the form of Jeff Goldblum, who’s been announced as one of two actors who’ll play Berry’s fathers. Goldblum’s TV spouse will be played by Broadway mainstay Brian Stokes Mitchell, and both will sing during the episode.

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Michael Moore Backs New Film on Resistance

By Nathan Burstein

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Oscar winner Michael Moore has signed on to help an Israeli filmmaker produce his next documentary — a project that will focus, in part, on the small minority of Germans who defied the Nazis during World War II.

Moore, who received an Academy Award for the 2002 documentary “Bowling for Columbine,” has agreed to match funds currently being raised by Yoav Shamir, whose previous films two have focused, respectively, on Israel’s military culture and anti-Semitism. Like his new benefactor, he’s no stranger to controversy: His most recent film, “Defamation,” questioned and at times mocked accusations of anti-Semitism emanating from parts of the Jewish world, looking in particular at the Anti-Defamation League.

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Tila Tequila Converts to Judaism

By TMZ Staff

Crossposted from TMZ

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Tila Tequila is converting to Judaism … seriously … and for once, she swears she’s not just after some cheap publicity.

TMZ has learned Tequila has been taking classes at a NY temple to begin the conversion process … and even skipped Christmas this year to focus on change.

We spoke with the former MTV reality star about the situation and she explained, “As time passed, I started to become more and more fascinated with Kabbalah, the culture, and the way of life of the reform Judaism religion.”

Read more at TMZ.com


Kosher Prison Food Not Only for Jews

By Renee Ghert-Zand

iStock

Eating kosher, even in prison, is a constitutional right — not only for Jews, but also for Christians.

On January 11, a three-justice panel of the California 3rd District Court of Appeals issued a ruling that overturned a lower court one that had denied Margarito Jesus Garcia kosher meals from the state’s Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. The court declared that responding negatively to Garcia’s request for kosher food amounted to a violation of Garcia’s rights under the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000.

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Beware of Viagra-Spiked Coffee

By Renee Ghert-Zand

iStock

Watch out, Israeli customers: That coffee you bought may be a lot stronger than you think!

Israel’s Health Ministry is warning people that products like “Magic Power Coffee” contain counterfeit Viagra. This powdered instant coffee drink, as well as others, are touted by marketers as natural alternatives to the erectile dysfunction drug. However, lab tests performed by the Health Ministry discovered that they actually contained the same chemical substance that is found in Viagra.

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Date Set for 2nd Jerusalem Marathon

By Michael Kaminer

As Jerusalem continues to shake off its, er, parochial reputation, Israel’s Ministry of Tourism this week announced the second annual Jerusalem International Marathon will run its course on March 16 around some of the Holy City’s most iconic sites.

The race, whose 2011 debut drew more than 10,000 runners from more than 40 countries, will include a full and half marathon, as well as a 10K run, according to a press release. The race “will bring participants through sites within Jerusalem’s historical landscape, including the Mount of Olives, Mount Zion, the Knesset, Jerusalem Promenade and various Old City sites such as Sultan’s Pool and the German Colony,” the announcement said.

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Ben Stein Sues for Religious Discrimination

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Getty Images

The Shmooze had no idea that not believing that climate change is caused by humans constitutes a religion. It’s not at all clear that it really does, but that’s what actor, writer and commentator Ben Stein would have us believe.

In response to Kyocera Corp’s backing out of an agreement to hire him to star in commercials for its printers, Stein is suing the company and its advertising agency, Seiter & Miller, for breach of contract, breach of good faith and fair dealing, wrongful discharge for political expression…and illegal religious discrimination.

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Mel Gibson Rant Victim Gets Day in Court

By JTA

The sheriff’s deputy who arrested actor Mel Gibson and was the subject of his anti-Semitic rant should be able to take his workplace discrimination case before a jury, a Los Angeles judge ruled.

James Mee, who is Jewish, says he was subject to religions discrimination and a hostile work environment after arresting Gibson in 2006. He wants to take his case before a judge and jury.

Mee claims that his supervisors ordered him to remove Gibson’s anti-Semitic remarks from the official incident report, placing them instead in a confidential supplemental report. He claims he was passed over for promotions in the department because he complained about purging the report.

Mee was accused of leaking his original report to the media, but he was investigated and found to be not culpable.

The trial will begin next month. Gibson could potentially be called as a witness.


Gilad Shalit Joins Facebook

By Haaretz

Gilad Shalit, the IDF soldier who was released from captivity in October after five and a half years, has recently opened a Facebook page.

Shalit still has a limited amount of friends, some of them his family members. Shalit also humorously joined the group calling for his release – though obviously it is no longer active.

Shalit has chosen for now not to make his account public, and there are no options for adding him as a friend, writing on his wall or sending him messages. His profile picture is a blurry image of him in yellow and blue – the colors of his favorite basketball team Maccabee Tel Aviv. The only link Shalit has posted so far is “watch the craziest dunk of 2011.”

When Shalit was abducted Facebook was still in its early days, and was mainly used by students at Harvard University and other campuses. However, the more popular it became around the world as well as in Israel, it became an important platform in the struggle for his release.

For more, go to Haaretz.com


Lawyer: Czech Expert Biased Because He's Jewish

By Renee Ghert-Zand

A Jewish judicial expert on extremism in the Czech Republic has quit his job after having been accused of being biased because of his Jewish background. According to Radio Prague, Michal Mazel’s resignation followed the filing of an objection by lawyer Petr Kočí on behalf of his client, a member of the extremist Workers’ Party for Social Justice. The lawyer’s 22-year-old female client had been charged with inciting ethnic hatred.

Mazel, whose testimony had helped to ban the right-wing Workers’ Party (the predecessor of the Workers’ Party for Social Justice), said he had simply had enough of the intimidation he has had to endure in recent years. He reported that neo-Nazis were threatening him online, including suggesting that someone send him a black mamba (a highly deadly snake) as a Hanukkah gift. Mazel claimed that the fact that there are just a few judicial experts on extremism in the country made them vulnerable to attack. He went on to recommend that the judicial system replace the individual experts with a committee on extremism and racism.

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Anti-Feminist Remarks From Israeli Activist

By Nathan Jeffay

She is one of the most successful religious women in the media, but Shulamit Melamed wants everyone to know that she’s no feminist.

The director of the pro-settler news network Arutz Sheva, Melamed runs the organization’s news site and oversees the newspaper Basheva, which is distributed weekly in an enormous number of synagogues and community venues across Israel and the West Bank — while raising seven children.

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Nazis, Art Theft and Clooney's Next Film

By Michael Kaminer

Getty Images

A gritty tale of stolen Nazi artwork is about to get the big-budget treatment from Hollywood.

“The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History,” by author Robert M. Edsel, has been optioned by actor/filmmaker George Clooney, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Clooney and producing partner Grant Heslov will adapt the book into a screenplay; the film “will likely serve as a starring vehicle for the ‘Descendants’ star,” who will also direct, the Hollywood Reporter said.

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Update: Pols Weigh In on Swastika Earrings

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

A quick addendum to Renee’s earlier post on the swastika earrings for sale at a Brooklyn jewelry store.

The earrings have drawn condemnation from Jewish elected officials in New York, including Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind, and New York City Councilman Steve Levin.

And though the earrings aren’t exactly Nazi swastikas, the elected officials say that they still found them objectionable.

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Brooklyn Store Sells Swastika Earrings

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Looking for some earrings? No problem: You can just pop into the Bejeweled store on Manhattan Avenue in Greenpoint, Brooklyn to choose a pair from a variety of designs. There are little hearts, peace signs, initials… and swastikas.

Yes, they sell swastika earrings — though whoever made them appears not to have been able to tell right from left. Nonetheless, they still look unmistakably like the symbol of Nazi Germany.

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