Monthly Archives: March 2009

Heeb Magazine Must Be Hilarious—Fake Holocaust Memoir Writing Contest

By Benjamin Schuman-Stoler

Heeb MagazineIn their most recent gimmick, Heeb has outdone even their own high standard of Jewish tomfoolery. Really outdone it. The idiosyncratic Jewish quarterly has announced a fake Holocaust memoir writing contest.

Entirely out of jest, the publicity stunt comes from the exposure of fake Holocaust memoirs by Herman Rosenblat and Misha Defonseca.

The contest’s rules include the following:

7. We reserve the right to mock any and all entries.
8. We reserve the right to publish and mock the winning entry.
9. “Memoirs” shall be defined as a form of writing, not a collage, short film or interpretive dance piece.
11. No parking baby. No parking on the dance floor.
12. No use of the words “tumescent,” “engorged” or “moist,” unless they are referring to cake
13. No previously published fake Holocaust memoirs
15. We are not liable for anything, anytime, anywhere, no givesies backsies, infinity.

The Holocaust, it’s true, is easy joke fodder. Almost every stand-up comedian, Jewish or gentile, has at least one Hitler or Nazi joke. And okay, irreverence is Heeb‘s M.O. But it’s an entirely different thing to use farcical memoirs to openly mock what really did happen in the Holocaust.

It’s hard to imagine a survivor—perhaps an author of legitimate Holocaust memoirs—reading about the contest and finding it as hilarious as Heeb thinks it is. For that reason, it’s hard not be offended by their charade. It’s insensitive to say the least, and, were one to consider the struggles of survivors themselves, downright cruel.

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Israel’s Path to World Cup 2010 in South Africa: Draws Greece 1-1

By Benjamin Schuman-Stoler

Highlights from Israel’s World Cup Qualifier against Greece this weekend:

They play Greece again (this time at their place) on Wednesday.

With nine points, Israel currently sit in third place in group 2. They needed that win!

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US Indirectly Funding Israeli Settlements?

By Benjamin Schuman-Stoler

David Ignatius

David Ignatius has a column today (also in the Washington Post) about tax-exempt charities that donate to various Israeli settlements in the West Bank, despite US government policy not to fund them. He says,

There’s nothing illegal about the charitable contributions to pro-settlement organizations, which are documented in filings with the Internal Revenue Service. They’re similar to tax-exempt donations made to thousands of foreign organizations around the world through groups that are often described as “American friends of … ” the recipient.

But critics of Israeli settlements question why American taxpayers are supporting indirectly, through the exempt contributions, a process that the government condemns. A search of IRS records identified 28 US charitable groups that made a total of $33.4 million in tax-exempt contributions to settlements and related organizations between 2004 and 2007.

Ignatius lists organizations like American Friends of the College of Judea and Samaria, American Friends of Yeshiva High School of Kiryat Arba, and Hebron Fund.

The glaring hole in the logic is that giving a charity a tax exemption, of course, doesn’t actually fund anything. It’s less an economic offense than a moral and pragmatic one: Considering the delicate arguments for peace in the Middle East and the controversy that settlements inevitably stir up, do these charities still deserve the tax-exemption if they help stymie US efforts towards peace?

And in other news about the peace process, new Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu spoke yesterday to allay some fears of his hawkish tendencies. For the record, his pick for foreign minister is the famous nationalist and right-wing Avigdor Lieberman, who lives in Nokdim–a West Bank settlement.

The man to unite the Jews, Christians, and Muslims- At least in cartoon form

By Marista Lane

Homer Simpson

While most people are waiting to see what will happen on their favorite television shows at the end of this season, the producers of “The Simpsons” already have a show planned for next season. It will take Homer Simpson to the Holy Land, where the Simpsons have never been before, according to Al Jean, the show’s executive producer.

From Independent Television News:

“I think we’re going to do one next year where they go to the Holy Land as we haven’t been there yet. The premise will be that the Christians, the Jews and Muslims are united in that they all get mad at Homer. It’s the only thing they can agree on,” [Jean] said.

The details for the show aren’t fully worked out, but we’re already a little excited.

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Have you checked out Moment’s March/April issue?

0409-coverIt’s on newsstands now!

Check out our cover story on Bernie Madoff, the man who ran what was perhaps one of history’s largest Ponzi schemes, remains a mystery. Rabbis representing the spectrum of Jewish belief reflect on what ethical lessons we can learn from the scandal, and Charles Ponzi biographer Mitchell Zuckoff discusses why Madoff targeted Jewish charities and how ethnicity has factored into the media coverage of the affair.

Also in this issue, we profile minority whip Eric Cantor. He made headlines by persuading his Republican colleagues not to vote for the stimulus package. Is this highest-ranking Jew in the history of the House, and its only Jewish Republican, the Moses who will lead the GOP out of the wilderness to the Promised Land? Former Wall Street Journal reporter Robert S. Greenberger profiles the 45-year-old Virginian.

There’s a lot more to check out in this issue, including Ilan Stavans on Mexico City’s forgotten Jewish past; Deborah Tannen’s conversation with Theodore Bikel; Jews in Chautauqua, America’s Protestant intellectual playground; Great Seder films; Paul Warburg‘s fight for the Federal Reserve; Israel’s lead in the electronic medical records department and columnists Eric Alterman, David Frum, Gershom Gorenberg and Marshall Breger.

Happy reading! And don’t forget to become a fan of Moment on Facebook and follow us on Twitter (MomentMagazine).

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Laish by Aharon Appelfeld

By Jeremy Gillick

The release last week of Laish, Aharon Appelfeld’s latest book to be translated into English, provided an excellent excuse to celebrate the Israeli author’s long and prolific career.

Originally published in Hebrew in 1994, the novel follows a band of mainly elderly, eastern European Jews, flawed but faithful, on their seemingly hopeless pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Narrated through the eyes of Laish, a teenager, it is a believable story, sad and even romantic, that is entirely symbolic. If it is not Appelfeld’s best work, it is nonetheless an important contribution, and as Naomi Sokoloff wrote in the Forward, it goes a long way towards illuminating his life and trajectory as an author.

Here’s how William Giraldi, in an excellent review at, sums up the 77-year old Appelfeld’s career: “In his growing body of fiction—a novelistic kaddish—Appelfeld employs the right words, the only words, to pass along the story that should never have been. Being labeled a Holocaust writer might indeed irritate Appelfeld, but no living novelist—not Wiesel, not Amos Oz—better chronicles the spiritual vacuum and extreme disorientation that ensued in the aftermath of Auschwitz. Whatever critics choose to call him, we require his witness.” Continue reading

Rosen’s Revenge

By Jeremy Gillick

In August of 2005 the United States made an unlikely indictment: following an FBI raid on AIPAC’s offices, it accused Steve Rosen, one of the pro-Israel group’s most senior and influential lobbyists, of passing classified information leaked to him by a Pentagon analyst to the Israeli government.

The pro-Israel community rushed to his defense, but newspapers worldwide pounced on the case, using it as a springboard to attack AIPAC. The indictment itself was sufficient to disgrace Rosen, who soon lost his job, and whatever the trial’s outcome, it seemed unlikely that he would ever regain his influence or stature.

Now, with his long-awaited trial less than two months away (it’s scheduled for April 29), Rosen has re-emerged, according to several reports, as the man responsible for the downfall of Charles (Chas) W. Freeman, Jr, who recently accepted an appointment as Chairman of the National Intelligence Council.

After a lengthy absence from the small world of Middle East policy, last November, Rosen began blogging about the Obama administration for the Middle East Forum, a think tank run by the neo-conservative Daniel Pipes.

On February 19, Rosen wrote a post about Freeman entitled “Alarming appointment at the CIA.” Continue reading

Madoff Guilty Plea To Come–MadoffSurvivors Still Antsy

By Benjamin Schuman-Stoler

MadoffBernard Madoff is expected to plead guilty to illegally amassing over $64 billion dollars in court tomorrow.

Here’s the AP‘s account of Tuesday’s courtroom scene:

Madoff, who wears a bulletproof vest, arrived at court more than three hours before the hearing as authorities tried to diminish the chance he would face a confrontation with investors. Several lawyers for investors showed up as spectators, but the courtroom was largely packed with members of the media.

Asked by the judge if Madoff would plead guilty Thursday, [Madoff’s lawyer Ira] Sorkin said: “I think that’s a fair expectation.” [U.S. District Judge Denny] Chin asked Sorkin if Madoff would plead guilty to all 11 counts.

“Yes your honor,” Sorkin answered.

There was never any real doubt that Madoff would get away with the Ponzi scheme he had orchestrated, but what is suprising about the guilty plea is that Madoff is prepared to enter the plea without a plea deal.

That means Madoff could be subjected to the maximum sentence for his case, a whopping 150 years.

Not that even 200 years would satisfy the investors who lost fortunes because of Madoff’s misconduct. A group of them, the “MadoffSurvivors,” wrote to Judge Chin this week, asking to postpone Madoff’s sentencing until a more thorough account of his finances has been completed.

Moment Columnists Frum and Gorenberg Duke it Out

Gershom Gorenberg and David Frum recently spoke on bloggingheads about Israel’s future and the importance, or lack thereof, of its settlements in the West Bank.

Gorenberg and Frum

Inglourious Basterds Trailer is out; Tarantino Still Insane

By Benjamin Schuman-Stoler

Here’s the trailer for Quentin Tarantino’s newest bloody assortment of moving pictures. This one’s called Inglourious Basterds and includes Brad Pitt and a whole bunch of dead Nazis. Oh, and it’s a remake of a 1978 movie by the same name (but spelled correctly).

We’re not really sure what to say about it past that (we’re still reeling from the trailer) so we’ll just put it up and let you ITM readers have it out.