The Shmooze

Beyonce Meets Bibi in J Street Campaign

By Anne Cohen

Queen Bey, meet Bibi.

A J Street campaign called “Put a Border on It” is applying Beyonce’s admittedly flawless rhetoric to the Israeli Palestinian conflict.

The organization has been tweeting out a poster advertising their petition calling on Benjamin Netanyahu to halt settlement expansion in the West Bank. The slogan plays on the chorus from “All the Single Ladies” which goes “if you like it then you should have put a ring on it,” replacing it with “if you like it you should have put a border on it.”

“Countries should only build within their recognized borders,” the petition reads. “Instead of announcing new settlements, Israel should announce its commitment to peace: offer a serious proposal for a secure border between Israel and Palestine, recognized by the entire world. Israel needs peace; the Palestinians need a state. It’s time to put a border on it.”

In case you felt the need to sing along, they’ve also helpfully provided appropriate lyrics.

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What Media Bias? Stephen Colbert on the War in Gaza

By Rachel X. Landes

Everyone seems to be divided over Gaza — One Direction has all but lost its identity over the issue. And the media is no exception.

In a segment on The Colbert Report devoted to the conflict, Stephen Colbert lamented the current state of affairs.

“This conflict in Israel has been going on for — What is today? July 31?” He paused. “3,000 years.”

Colbert then went on to outline the accusations of a pro-Israel slant in the media, showing clips of interviewees criticizing the prevalence of Benjamin Netanyahu on American television screens.

“I never see one Palestinian being interviewed,” said Rula Jebreal, MSNBC contributor, in one clip.

Colbert dead-panned that he hasn’t noticed any pro-Israel bias in the media — and mocked CNN’s Wolf Blitzer for reporting from the “Situation Kibbutz,” rather than the “Situation Room.”

On the other hand, all images of dead bodies and destroyed buildings abound — the real anti-Israel bias, according to Colbert. After all, “We all know whoever has the most dead bodies wins.”

Colbert then tried to report on the conflict without any bias, and predictably couldn’t get any words past the censor.

Well, except the comment: “The entire situation is f***ing BS.”

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'Big Brother' in Bomb Shelter

By Rachel X. Landes

Keshet Broadcasting

The show must go on! This time with a new bomb shelter.

Although many Israeli shows and networks have gone on hiatus due to Operation Protective Edge, Big Brother Israel is undeterred. The show, filmed in Neve Ilan, a village near the outskirts of Jerusalem, was in the middle of its sixth season when the conflict started.

Rather than shut down, the show’s producers got creative.The house now contains regional alarms and a bomb shelter, even though that violate the rules of the show that houseguests cannot have any contact with the outside world – Security will out.

According to Quartz, Keshet, the network that produces “Big Brother Israel,” waited almost a month to tell contestants about the escalating conflict between Israel and Gaza.

The first time an air-raid siren went off in the outskirts of Jerusalem, where the house is located, its residents—by then nearly two months into their confinement—were told it was a technical glitch (link in Hebrew). But after a second alarm the next day, July 8—almost a month after three Israeli teens were kidnapped, on June 12, and later found dead, setting off an escalation of tensions and violence—the show’s producers decided to break the rules and tell the contestants what was going on.

A video via Jerusalem Post (in Hebrew) shows some of their reactions.

Also from Quartz, here’s a translation of the announcement from the disembodied Big Brother voice:

“Tenants of the house… As you all know, with your entrance into Big Brother, you were disconnected from the outside world. Living in a place cut off from outside is an essential part of your, and the viewers’, experience in the house. The producers do everything to preserve this disconnection. We don’t allow messages from the outside or updates on events outside of the house—unless the situation can have a direct impact on the house’s tenants, or on their family members outside. Big Brother feels obliged to update you that in the past few days, the security situation has become tense. There has been an escalation in the south, which includes rocket fire, mainly on those living just outside the Gaza Strip, but which this evening has spread to Gush Dan [the Tel Aviv area] and our area.”

Only after milking the moment for the benefit of reality television viewers did the announcer admit that the show’s producers had confirmed that everyone’s families were safe and sound.

Keshet has lost $13.1 million over the past two weeks, a rep for the company told The Hollywood Reporter last week. Despite the rockets, 45% of Israeli audiences still watch the show, which switches to the news if there are any significant developments.

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Why Mayim Bialik Supports Israel

By Anne Cohen

Mayim Bialik has been active on social media since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge, sending thoughts and prayers to her friends and family in Israel.

But in a personal piece posted on her Kveller blog on Thurday, the “Big Bang Theory” explained her decision to send money to the Israel Defense Forces. The list is simple and to the point:

  1. I need to feel like I’m doing something.

  2. No matter what your politics are, soldiers sent into war zones deserve to be protected from enemy fire.

  3. Every soldier is someone’s son or daughter. Every single one.

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Joan Rivers Has Advice for Israel: Nose Jobs

By Anne Cohen

Getty Images

Joan Rivers is trading in her “Fashion Police” badge for some international relations credentials.

The comedian, who just last week was seen passionately defending Israel to a TMZ reporter, is at it again. In an interview with Israel’s Channel 10 on Wednesday, Rivers had some words of advice for Israel’s PR team.

“We are doing something very wrong in Israel and we are not doing public relations work,” Rivers told Channel 10’s U.S. correspondent Gil Tamari. “Hamas is so smart, they are using old pictures of dead children every time we hit a spot that happens to be – yes, a school, but underneath it there are weapons and they say ‘school!’ and it’s killing me because the wrong people, the dumb people are buying into it.”

Asked for advice on how deal with celebrities like Selena Gomez and Rihanna, Rivers said: “I think Israel should start showing dead puppies. And you’ll see these girls turn right around and go, ‘aww, boo hoo.’”

Lovely, Joan. Just lovely.

But wait, there’s more.

The segment ended with Tamari asking Rivers to play “Got To Have It or Make It Stop,” a game made popular on “Fashion Police.”

This particular gem came out of round 1:

“Well I think we should make it stop and I think I know how to make it stop. I think every Palestinian should get a nose job,” she said. “Because once somebody has had a nose job they won’t fight ‘cause they’re scared their new nose would get broken. I think we should send over every great Jewish plastic surgeon doctor, fix their noses, and there will be peace in the Middle East.”

Ladies and gentlemen, Joan Rivers.

Watch the whole segment below (if you dare).

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Penelope Cruz Just Wants Peace in Gaza

By Curt Schleier

Getty Images

Penelope Cruz didn’t exactly say “I didn’t know what the heck I was doing,” but she did issue a clarification to an open letter — written by husband Javier Bardem — which she signed along with nearly 100 Spanish actors and filmmakers.

The original letter called for an end to “the genocide perpetrated by the Israeli occupation army in the Gaza strip against Palestinian civilians.”

Turns out that just maybe that wasn’t what she meant.

“I don’t want to be misunderstood on this important subject,” she said. “I’m not an expert on the situation and I’m aware of the complexity of it. My only wish and intention in signing that group letter is the hope that there will be peace in both Israel and Gaza. I am hopeful all parties can agree to a cease fire and there are no more innocent victims on either side of the border. I wish for unity, and peace.”

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Jon Stewart Calls U.S. 'Oprah of Middle East'

By Anne Cohen

Youtube

Everyone wants peace in the Middle East. That’s the easy part — saying it. But then, how to achieve it?

Jon Stewart may have the answer.

On Tuesday night’s “Daily Show,” Stewart opened a segment on the conflict between Israel and Hamas by showing clips of American leaders who “all want to see peace in this region.”

“It’s what we do,” Stewart quipped. He then pointed out that the U.S. is sending arms to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iraq, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and Israel.

“We’re like the Oprah of Middle East Weapons systems!” Stewart said. “You get some bombs! You get some bombs! Everybody get some bombs!”

You’re welcome.

Stewart, who has been lambasted for his coverage of Israel’s operation in Gaza, once again took the opportunity to strike back at his critics:

“This is a dangerous region,” he said, “even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”

Watch the whole segment below:

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Support Israel's Troops — By Getting Naked

By Anne Cohen

A new Facebook page showcases a new way for Israeli women to support the troops — by stripping down practically to their birthday suit.

“Standing With the IDF” calls on Israel women to raise morale (so to speak) by uploading sexy pictures of the their bodies, upon which uplifting messages have been scrawled. The page’s intro is pretty self-explanatory: “You keep us safe from above, and we will watch you from below!”

The page had more than 15,000 likes as of Friday morning. It was taken down by Facebook but a number of copycat pages popped up.

Still, the initiative has received mixed reviews. As seen in Haaretz:

One person wrote “I must admit, I am a great fan of this page… You have found the way to give our soldiers the most uplifting present without even leaving the house. I thank you, in the name of every soldier who got a moment of peace and a reason to enter the battlefield with a smile on his face. Be he married or single, be he pious or a player, a big thank you from all soldiers, for the self- confidence and the strength of soul you teach us.”

Others were less positive. “I don’t want to bum you out, but wow - bad idea. Good execution, bad idea. Thanks, but no thanks to whoever invited me to this group,” said one. Another quipped: “Boys, what about the gay soldiers? They need to know you are behind them, too, so join the effort and send your naked photos!”

From singles trips in the desert to barely concealed support for the boys in uniform, the conflict raging in the region hasn’t seemed to put a damper on those libidos.

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Samuel L. Jackson Celebrates Israel Day

By Anne Cohen

Remember that time Samuel L. Jackson celebrated Israel Day and broke the Internet?

The actor posted a selfie of himself in front of the Israel Day festivities on Fifth Avenue on Sunday, casually causing the Internet to implode. Amidst the usual thread comments celebrating Sam’s glorious badassery — ”Another perfect Sam selfie” — one could also find comments like these:

The picture caused a Twitter firestorm as supporters of the Jewish state defended Israel against its detractors:

Sam, as is his habit once mischief is managed, stayed silent.

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'My Roommate Is Jewish' Joke

By Anne Cohen

Time Out New York has revealed the winners of its 2013 Joke of the Year contest. Hidden among the quips about MILF porn, weight loss and ghetto baby showers, was this:

“I’m Palestinian and my roommate is Jewish, so we’re always fighting over where his room starts and mine ends. He pays more rent, but I’ve lived there longer.”

Sammy Obeid’s joke is fifth on the list, with 13.4% approval. As per his Twitter bio, he is a “#Comedian & Writer, as seen on CONAN on TBS & America’s Got Talent – The guy who performed 1,001 consecutive days of comedy #1000daysofcomedy”

Check out the rest of the jokes here.

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Settlers Launch Boycott of McDonald's

By Yermi Brenner

The battle between Israeli settlers and the worlds most recognized fast food chain, which began earlier this week with McDonald’s decision to prevent the opening of a new branch in the West Bank, just went up a notch.

The leaders of settlers groups are now calling for a boycott against the hamburger empire.

“McDonald’s has turned from a business into an organization with an anti- Israeli political agenda,” said Yigal Delmonti, deputy director of the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, in an interview for the Jerusalem Post. “We expect that Israeli citizens, especially those living in Judea and Samaria, will take this into account before entering the company’s franchises.”

A poster altering Mcdonald’s campaign slogan from ‘I’m Loving It’ to ‘I’m NOT Loving it’ was posted Thursday on the Facebook page of My Israel, a right wing grassroots group founded by MK Naftali Bennett , the leader of the Bayit Yehudi party which is part of the Israeli government. Also published in the same post was the phone number of the offices of McDonald’s-Israel and a request to supporters to flood the company with complaints.

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I'm No Terrorist

By Haaretz

getty images
Ayman Abu Aita

A Palestinian grocer portrayed as a terrorist in the comedy “Bruno” has settled his slander suit against Jewish actor Sacha Baron Cohen and talk show host David Letterman, according to a report by the British Daily Mail.

In an article published Friday, the Daily Mail said that Ayman Abu Aita was interviewed in the 2009 comedy, where he was labeled in a caption as a member of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, a violent offshoot of the Palestinian Fatah movement, and that Baron Cohen later discussed his encounter with a “terrorist” on Letterman’s CBS show.

Abu Aita’s court papers described him as a Christian and “a peace-loving person” who was living in the West Bank, adding that he “has never associated with the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade or any terrorist activity,” said the Daily Mail.

“He went to the interview that appeared in ‘Bruno’ thinking he was talking to a journalist about peace activism, his court complaint said. Instead, the movie spurred death threats against him, damaged his business and made him fear for his family’s safety,” the Daily Mail report said.

For more, go to Haaretz.com

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Christian Palestinians Moving Back to Holy Land

By Renee Ghert-Zand

There’s no place like home when it comes to the Holy Land. These are the sentiments of millions of Jews, but also of the many Christian Palestinians now choosing to return there after having lived abroad.

American-Israeli freelance journalist Michele Chabin reports in the National Catholic Register that recent statistics show that for the first time in a long time, more Christians are moving to Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories than are leaving them. Palestinian Prime Minister Salem Fayyad “credited improvements in Palestinian civic society, governance and infrastructure for much of the reversal,” Chabin wrote.

Economic hardship and the difficult times of the Second Intifada drove many Christians, especially young ones, to seek a new life in countries in Europe and North America. The common belief has been that as soon as a young person gets his or her academic degree, he or she looks to leave for the West.

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Bereaved Parents Urge Peace Action

By Nathan Jeffay

As Israel and the Palestinians come together in Washington, talk is cheap. Everyone has something to say for or against the meeting.

One of the more unusual groups putting forward a more carefully considered opinion than most is the Parents Circle-Families Forum, an organization that consists of families who have lost a loved one in the conflict – on both sides. This can mean the family of an Israeli soldier who was killed by Palestinians sitting down with the family of a Palestinian killed by the Israeli army in one of the intifadas.

The organization today wrote to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas urging them: “Do not let the extremists from both sides to detour you from the main road, the road of dialog and negotiation. Do not let the extremists to dictate you the agenda, its rhythm and the very existence of the talks. “

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Gaza Kids Attempt To Break World Record for Bouncing Balls

By Lauren F. Friedman

In a rare piece of lighthearted, apolitical news from the Gaza Strip, AP reported that more than 7,000 Palestinian children there spent five minutes on Thursday simultaneously dribbling basketballs in an attempt to enter the Guinness Book of World Records.

The children, among 250,000 in the Gaza Strip who attend United Nations summer camps, were aiming to beat a previous record set in Indiana in 2007. (The political angle here — and there always is one — is that about 100,000 other children in Gaza attend competing summer camps run by Hamas, where they reportedly learn Israel-hating, along with swimming.)

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Could Elvis Costello Be Coming to Israel After All?

By Nathan Jeffay

His wife, the Canadian jazz pianist and singer Diana Krall, is to perform in Ra’anana in August, and the international pro-Israel advocacy group StandWithUs has offered Elvis Costello a “five star VIP tour of Israel” if he accompanies her on the trip.

The Forward recently reported that Costello canceled his June 30 and July 1 performances in Tel Aviv, describing his decision as “a matter of instinct and conscience.” In a statement Costello also blames the decision on “despicable acts of violence perpetrated in the name of liberation.”

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Gay Tourist Robbed, Left Naked at Israel Intersection

By Michael Kaminer

Criminals apparently got the memo that Tel Aviv’s now hot with gay tourists, as the Forward recently reported. According to JPost.com, a British traveler was lured into a robbery with promises of sex, then left stranded — and naked — at a Tel Aviv intersection by a male perp.

Though reports of the crime just surfaced yesterday, police say the alleged attack took place on April 4. The Briton got friendly with the suspected robber on one of Tel Aviv’s gay-friendly beaches. The victim drove with his new friend to a secluded spot under a bridge, where they started “engaging in sexual acts,” according to JPost. Then the alleged criminal, a Palestinian who lives in the West Bank, threatened the Brit, kicked him out of the car and sped off with his clothes and possessions.

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