Monthly Archives: September 2008

Reminder: Moment’s 2008 Book Poll

We had a wonderful response to our Presidential Poll, and now is the time to have your voice heard in our Book Poll. What’s your favorite Jewish book? Write an email to, and we might share the results in our next issue. Be sure to include your name, city, favorite book and reason for your choice.

Please have your votes in by this Friday, October 3 at 5:00. And be sure to check out the newsstands in November for Moment’s Book Issue.

Photo by josiehen.

Sarah Silverman’s Great Schlep

Trying to push American Jewish seniors to vote Democrat, the Jewish Council for Education & Research has enlisted Sarah Silverman as the face of its new hilarious canvassing campaign, “The Great Schlep.”

Besides Silverman’s outrageous tactics (that often flirt with the inappropriate) are talking points such as, “Obama Loves Israel And So Do You” and “He’s Black, Let’s Talk About It,” as well as Silverman’s own assertion that if anyone should be able to relate to outsiders with funny names it should be the Jews.

This comes in the wake of an AJC poll that concluded Jewish voters favor Obama to Republican nominee John McCain 57 to 30 percent. According to AOL News, Obama is sweeping the 18-29 demographic as well, with a 60 percent share. Continue reading

This Week’s Links

  • Sir Paul McCartney is soooo the man. He’s bringing “a message of peace” to Israel. [JPost]
  • This is definitely not kosher: Charedi men were caught sneaking to computer labs late at night and looking at porn. [Ynet via Geek Heeb]
  • Getting tired of Ahmadinejad talk yet? Too bad. Lots of people are irate at his planned appearance at an interfaith dinner tonight. [CSM]
  • His Royal Highness Prince Charles has a thing for Judaism, apparently. [Totally Jewish]
  • “The peculiar character traits I have noticed displayed by Jews over the years are the comic equivalent of gold dust.” Comedian Mark Maier on Jews and comedy. [Jewish Community Online]
  • Either Bill Clinton is procrastinating, or he really cares about the high holidays. He won’t start campaigning for Obama until they’re over. [Ha’aretz]

—Benjamin Schuman-Stoler

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Jews for Ahmadinejad, Onion-style

Ahmadinejad tries to make out with Jewish man

Ahmadinejad tries to make out with Jewish man

In an effort to improve his standing among Jews, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad tried yesterday to make out with a member of the ultra-Orthodox sect Neturei Karta.

Ahmadinejad has been in the dumps among pro-Semites since giving a speech at the UN earlier this week condemned by Barack Obama as anti-Semitic (see below for the full text).

On Wednesday, though, Ahmadinejad met with a group of Neturei Karta rabbis who presented him with a $700 silver trophy and told him they loved him. Continue reading

Jewish Politicians Rip into RJC

Watch Joe Biden deliver last night’s opening speech at the National Jewish Democratic Council’s Washington Conference.

Jewish politicians known for their support of Israel lashed out against the Republican Jewish Committee this morning, accusing it of dividing America’s Jewish community for the sake of politics.

During a panel discussion titled “Israel: Bipartisan Consensus or Partisan Wedge Issue” at a conference hosted by the National Jewish Democratic Council in Washington DC, House Representatives Shelley Berkley (D-NV) and Brad Sherman (D-CA), and former Representative Mel Levine (D-CA) criticized the RJC’s anti-Obama campaign as “BS,” emphasizing that historically Democrats have been the most staunchly and consistently pro-Israel party.

“You cannot denigrate and destroy our community in the interest of getting someone elected and that’s exactly what they [the RJC] are doing Continue reading

Ahmadinejad’s UN Speech, Full Text

We don’t think this needs much of an introduction. For more information on the UN meetings this week, and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s speech in particular, go to CNN, BBC, AP, or Al Jazeera.

New York, September 23, 2008

In the Name of God the Compassionate, the Merciful

“All praise be to Allah, the Lord of the universe, and peace and blessing be upon our Master and Prophet, Mohammad, and his pure household, and his noble companions.”

“Oh God, hasten the arrival of Imam Al-Mahdi and grant him good health and victory and make us his followers and those who attest to his rightfulness.”

Mr. President,


I am grateful to the Almighty for granting me another opportunity to be present in this world Assembly.

In the last three years, I have talked to you about great hopes in the bright future of human society, and some solutions for achieving sustainable peace and expanding love, compassion, Continue reading

Reform Judaism Promoting Politics?

By Inthemoment contributor Larry Kessner

A few years ago, not long after my daughter’s Bat Mitzvah, I was talking to a good friend who had attended the service at our large, Washington DC-area Reform temple. My friend, whose politics are similar to mine, was raised Baptist in South Carolina and educated at Princeton and Georgetown. He is funny, very well-informed and culturally aware (meaning discard any preconceived notions you may have about Southern Baptists) I asked him what he thought of the service, which was the first he had attended at a Reform synagogue.

“Interesting,” he said. “I half expected Ted Kennedy to march up there any minute. The sermon sounded like the Democratic Party platform. Is that what your religion is about?”

“Good question,” I responded. Continue reading

UN Roundup

What with non-stop hoopla at the convening of the United Nations General Assembly this week in New York, we offer a quick recap of the main issues to help you sift through the news coverage.

  • Predictably, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has created the most amount of controversy. One example: The American Jewish Committee wrote an open letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon protesting a dinner at which Ahmadinejad will be honored.
  • Republican Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin has also made headlines, primarily because of her planned appearance at a rally organized today to voice opposition to Ahmadinejad. This is the rally that Hillary Clinton pulled out of because she didn’t want to make it a political circus. In turn, it has become a political circus. Update 3:05 PM: JTA puts the number of protesters in the thousands.
  • Palin will meet with former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger, President Alvaro Uribe of Colombia, and President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan in an attempt to bolster her foreign policy credentials (not unlike Barack Obama’s trip to Europe and the Middle East this summer).
  • Richard Holbrooke and other government officials write in the Wall Street Journal today that Iran is the primary story of this session for good reason: “A nuclear-armed Iran would likely destabilize an already dangerous region that includes Israel, Turkey, Iraq, Afghanistan, India and Pakistan, and pose a direct threat to America’s national security.” (HT: The Telegraph)
  • Israeli President Shimon Peres has his hands full with political turmoil in Israel, so he will not attend a General Assembly reception hosted by President George W. Bush tonight. Israel will be represented by UN Ambassador Gabriela Shalev.
  • President Bush will be making his farewell address to the UN. (Hold for applause?)

Benjamin Schuman-Stoler

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Iraq-Israel Relations…in the Tubes

Remember this name: Mithal al-Alusi. He is a Sunni member of the Iraqi parliament who visited Israel two weeks ago to attend a counter-terror conference, and his life is now in danger.

Not that this is the first time. In September 2004, al-Alusi made his first trip to Israel, also to attend a counter-terror conference. Apparently as payback for visiting Israel, assassins went for al-Alusi not long afterwards, killing his two sons.

But Iraq is different now, right? The US troop surge has brought victory within sight, right? Hardly.

Last week, al-Alusi was stripped of parliamentary immunity, clearing the way for his prosecution for violating an Iraqi law from 50 years ago that barred visiting Israel. According to AP, the law allows for the death penalty, but Continue reading

Israeli Prize for Prickly Conservationist

Do Not Touch.

I confess to making a dumb and painful mistake in Israel last month: trying to harvest a sabra fruit with my bare hand. I somehow failed to notice the tiny, hairlike darts that cover the entire fruit, one of which lingers in my right ring finger.

Conservationist and Ben-Gurion University Professor Alon Tal, who just received an award from the Israeli government for his environmental teaching and activism, is not a sabra; he grew up in North Carolina before emigrating to Israel at 20. But Tal is prickly, all right, bristling with sharp opinions, including hardcore attitudes about Zionism and “The Land” that rile some of his environmental colleagues on the left. He’s also one of the smartest people I’ve spoken with in Israel, which is saying something. And he talks really, really fast, which is why my notes from our interview were useless. Fortunately, I had a voice recorder, so I can share with you his explanations of why some conservationists make bad Zionists; how desert demographics could bury the Jewish state; and the possibility that Israel’s Bedouins might once have become Jews. Continue reading