By Jeremy Gillick
While the economic crisis may spell Birthright’s demise, New Voices editor Josh Nathan-Kazis argues that the famously free trip to Israel has already left its mark. In its December issue, Josh takes a look at Birthright’s Hidden Cost.
The issue also features an interview with Naomi Klein, the new darling of the left, who has been the subject of recent features in The New Yorker and in The New Republic, as well as stories on Manischewitz, the Jewish Defense League, and Jews at small, southern colleges, and a podcast on transgender issues in the Jewish community.
In a provocative op-ed, Asher Berman makes the case for a strategic alliance between Iran and the United States. Read it all at New Voices.
Posted in Culture, Events, Politics
Tagged Benjamin Netanyahu, Bibi, Birthright, Iran, Jewish Defense League, Manischewitz, Naomi Klein, New Voices, Sheldon Adelson, transgender
Everyone is talking about Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s letter to president-elect Barack Obama. The letter, according to Iranian news agency ISNA, congratulates Obama and expresses Ahmadinejad’s wish for real change in US policy towards Iran. Every major newspaper has an emphatic headline for Ahmadinejad’s letter, which reflects the world’s on-edge expectations for the new administration.
We Jews are definitely waiting to see how Obama’s campaign promises play out in Iran. Will Obama shun Ahmadinejad the way President Bush did when the former sent a long-winded letter that many perceived as a tendril of friendlier relations?
And the other great piece of news from world leaders comes out of Italy, where Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi called Obama “young, handsome and also tanned.” Of course, it’s a dubious racial reference that has been rightly protested across the globe. But it’s also funny, you have to admit, to hear a foreign leader talk about Obama as if he was a fresh young signing for AC Milan, Berlusconi’s soccer team.
It looks like the international system of governance is finally paying off. I mean, despite reports that the US and its allies are looking to bypass the UN in order to impose sanctions on Iran, we can all rest assured. The international system of dialogue is finally being put to good use.
Lebanon is suing Israel for ownership of its national foods, including falafel, hummus, and tabouleh. I am not making this up. The LA Times and Ha’aretz report:
“In a way the Jewish state is trying to claim ownership of traditional Lebanese delicacies like falafel, tabouleh and hummus” [Lebanese Industrialists Association Fadi] Abboud said. According to Abboud, the Lebanese are losing “tens of millions of dollars annually” because Israel is selling and marketing traditional Lebanese dishes.
“The Israelis are marketing our main food dishes as if they were Israeli dishes, Continue reading
In yet another intriguing occurrence in the Iranian-Israeli relations saga, a 16 year-old Iranian boy with a particularly vicious brain tumor has been flown to Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer in a final effort to save his life. Ynet and Ha’aretz reported that the boy arrived at Sheba, widely regarded as one of the most technologically advanced centers in the Middle East, from Turkey on Friday.
Sheba CEO Zeev Rotstein said it wasn’t the first time Israeli doctors have treated children from adversarial states.
“We hope that with the love and affection we give these kids we are paving the way for at least some understanding between people,” he said. “We can’t change the politics. We are not politicians. We do this because we feel it is our job.” Continue reading
French FM Bernard Kouchner almost got Israel into some serious trouble yesterday, when he misspoke and said Israel would “eat” Iran. Reuters reports:
“I honestly don’t believe that it will give any immunity to Iran … because you will eat them before,” Kouchner was quoted by Israel’s Haaretz newspaper as saying in an interview about the possibility of Tehran gaining a nuclear weapon.
But the French Foreign Ministry issued a brief statement later saying Koucher had said ‘hit’ — meaning carrying out a surgical pre-emptive strike — rather than ‘eat’.
We all know that native French speakers often drop the H from English words. A little more prudence on the part of Kouchner and Ha’aretz wouldn’t have been so hard, though, right? It seems like a silly mistake to make when tensions between Israel and Iran are so high.
Reuters, at least, had the wit to remind us of “Allo Allo,” a British sitcom whose humor relied almost singularly on French mispronunciation (see video above).
You can find Kouchner’s Ha’aretz interview, corrected, here.
This weekend, the Iranian men’s wheelchair basketball team competing at the Paralympic Games in Beijing quit the tournament. The reason given was “dissatisfaction” with their “schedule,” although there is speculation that they quit because of the possibility they would play the Israeli team in the next round.
According to theTehran Times:
The International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF) and the International Paralympics Committee announced that Iran has pulled out of competition “due to their dissatisfaction with the draw proposed for the cross-over round and subsequent schedule”. Continue reading
Posted in Culture, Politics
Tagged 2008 Olympic Games, 2008 Paralympic Games, Beijing, Chicago Cubs, Houston Astros, IOC, IPC, Iran, Israel, IWBF, Syria
The European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) began an astounding experiment yesterday, where they hope to recreate the “Big Bang” from which scientists believe our universe was created. The experiment involves smashing tiny particles together at speeds close to the speed of light, and seeing what sort of energy and reaction occurs.
For our purposes, what is worth noting—and, perhaps, is just as important as discovering the origins of our existence—is the cooperation and friendship of Israeli, Palestinian, Iranian, and Lebanese scientists. Indeed, according to Ynet, it seems that the whole group got along quite well, once even traveling to Paris to squelch a hummus craving.
Professor Giora Mikenberg, who heads the Israeli team at CERN and comes from the Department of Particle Physics at the Weizmann Institute, said, “Science knows no borders and no enemies. It’s a wonderful thing.”
Israelis have long been a recognizable force at CERN. Says Ynet:
Israel, in many ways, is one of the key players in helping make the super collider come to life, as 40 Israeli scientists from the Technion and the Tel Aviv and Haifa universities have spent the better part of the past 10 years developing several of its main electronic systems, particularly the core’s detector system—which is charged with deciphering and analyzing the results of the unprecedented experiment.
Interesting news out of Israel yesterday, where Pensioners Affairs Minister Rafi Eitan said Israel could kidnap Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and bring him to court. Eitan, a former Mossad agent who helped track Adolf Eichmann, said:
The era of hunting down old Nazis is over, but that’s not to say that such operations are completely a thing of the past, and it could very well be that a leader such as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad suddenly finds himself before the International Criminal Court in The Hague…
Those who spread poison and want to eradicate another people has to expect such consequences.
Iran reacted immediately, writing a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon:
These dangerous threats of resorting to criminal acts against the officials of a sovereign country, or threatening to use force against a member of the United Nations not only constitute manifest violations of international law and contravene the most fundamental principles of the Charter of the United Nations, but are against the basic values of the civilised world. Continue reading
Iranian swimmer Mohammad Alirezaei withdrew from the 100-meter breaststroke prelims on Saturday, raising suspicion that he did so because an Israeli swimmer, Tom Beeri, was placed in the same heat. If Alrezaei did indeed pull out of the race for political reasons, Iran would face potential sanctions according to International Olympic Committee guidelines.
But the IOC has accepted Alirezaei’s explanation that he was experiencing stomach pains before his race and say that no violation has occurred.
An Iranian athlete withdrew from the judo tournament in Athens in 2004 to great praise because an Israeli athlete was competing. At that time, says CNN:
The Iranian president was quoted by the state news agency as saying the athlete’s actions would be “recorded in the history of Iranian glories” and declared that the nation considers him to be “the champion of the 2004 Olympic Games.”
Iran does not recognize Israel’s existence and prohibits contact with Israelis. Despite all that, Russia’s Israeli men’s basketball coach met and shook hands with the Iranian basketball team in Beijing on Sunday.
Israel will get a radar system to bolster her short-range missile defenses, according to CNN.com and Ha’aretz. Says the latter:
Signaling willingness to focus on defensive measures, [Israeli Defense Minister Ehud] Barak said he had secured the Pentagon’s agreement to post a powerful radar, known as the forward-based X-band, in Israel “before the new (U.S.) administration arrives” in January.
Built by Raytheon Co, the system has been described by U.S. officials as capable of tracking an object the size of a baseball from about 2,900 miles (4,700 km) away. It would let the Arrow engage an Iranian Shehab-3 ballistic missile about halfway through what would be its 11-minute flight to Israel. Continue reading