The Jerusalem Post reports that several American Jewish leaders were invited to meet with the Emir of Qatar in September 2017. Several inquired with the Israeli Ambassador to the USA on whether they should attend. They were advised to avoid the meeting, but most didn’t follow Israel’s suggestion. I mean.. how could a meeting and some snacks hurt? Several leaders got free trips to Doha… first class, no less. Plus free headphones. Attorney Alan Dershowitz wrote an Op-Ed after his trip in support of some of Doha’s issues, though it was also balanced and critical. It was said that in a meeting, Qatari officials told American Jewish leaders that Al Jazeera would not air a film critical of Israel’s lobbyists in Washington DC. But…. Surprise! They are.
Speaking of surprises… Media provocateur and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones has been accused of sexual harassment and making anti-jewish remarks. The New York Daily News reports that two former employees made the allegations. Rob Jacobson, who worked as a video editor for Alex Jones’ Infowars for 13 years, claims that Jones frequently singled out Jacobson’s Jewish heritage and referred to him as “beefcake.” And the beef wasn’t kosher! He is also accused of calling Rob his “Resident Jew,” and once photoshopped his face onto the body of a Hasidic Jewish man and circulated it around the office. Jacobson also felt that Jones was grooming him for a gay sex hookup.
Speaking of Sexual Harassment… so many syngaogues were keenly aware of #MeToo, #UsToo, Purim and the Book of Esther. Several included mini sermons on the plights of Vashti and Esther, and the roles of harassment, personal agency, and sex in the story of Purim. On the night of Purim, I checked Youtube for some livestreams of synagogue services. Of the dozen and a half I checked out, there were fun spiels from Culver City, Winnepeg, and Long Island, but the majority of the livestreams were surprisingly (to me) from evangelical groups having their own Purim events.
Pricilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg (Chan “Z”uckerberg Initiative) bake hamantaschen
Speaking of events, The New York Times highlights the work of the Lenox Hill Neighbohood House in Manhattan and their production of ANNIE HALL by Woody Allen, featuring their elderly senior center clients. Harry Miller, 94, and Shula Chernick, 73, are two of the stars of “My Annie Hall,” directed by Matt Starr, 29, and Ellie Sachs, 25.
And on the topic of anti-Jewish personalities (not including today’s funeral of the pro-Israel, but anti-Jewish Reverend Billy Graham), Minister Louis Farrakhan is still alive and back in the news. He delivered an impassioned speech filled with his hatred of Jews. This present day Haman-like speaker gave a Saviours’ Day 2018 Address in which he declared that “the powerful Jews are my enemy,” and “white folks are going down.” And he did not mean going down to the store. Sadly he is not anachronistic.
Amanda Berman, the President of the Zioness Movement, issued a statement on the relationship between Louis Farrakhan and the leaders of the Women’s March. She wrote:
“No one expects progressive leaders — who are humans — to be perfect. We expect them to be inherently good, as opposed to profoundly racist. It would be absolutely unacceptable to Tamika Mallory, Carmen Perez and Linda Sarsour if a leader made heinous and hateful comments about their respective communities. And we would join them in loudly condemning that leader. Thus, it is hypocritical beyond words that they continue to align themselves with Louis Farrakhan, who is an unapologetic bigot that spews hate targeting the Jewish community, LGBTQ community and others. There is no ambiguity on this issue. Either the Women’s March leaders endorse the vilification of the Jewish people or they don’t. It’s that simple. This episode only reaffirms the need to activate and empower new leaders in the feminist movement who show up to fight for the civil and human rights of all people, not just some people.”
Speaking of activation and empowerment, The New York Times’ Editorial Board wrote an opinion on Jared Kushner that said he gave bad advice, has had shady deals, and is generally incompetent with regard to his role at the White House. Also The Washington Post alleged that the State of Israel and other nations tried to influence him and his policy recommendations in return for directing related investors to his family’s real estate projects. Israel using an Orthodox Jewish guy as an agent? Sounds like #FakeNews.
Comic Bill Maher criticizes Jared and his Jewish heritage:
What isn’t #FakeNews… is that in a discussion on the laying in state of the late Rev. Billy Graham, a formerly Jewish – now Mormon – former Member of Congress – now pundit – was so overtaken by his punditry and his love of Rev. Graham (who was not fond of Jews OR MORMONS) that he told Fox News viewers that Parkland, FL area high school students could heal if they embraced Jesus more. Thanks Mister Diversity! Why don’t you run for Congress again? I don’t blame him for insensitivity. He is thankfully a private citizen and steeped in his love of Mormonism so much that he views the world through these lenses. In his worldview, he was being honest and charitable.
On a more sane approach to comfort and tzedaka, The Sun Sentinel reports on the Jewish Federation of Broward County and their distribution of Purim gifts to those affected by the murders at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. Six hundred volunteers created 6,618 mishloach manot bags. The bags included a Hamantaschen and a message of support and information on mental health services.
With regard to mental health… let’s talk about Poland. We all know about their law making it a crime punishable with three years in prison for saying the Poles were complicit in the Nazi murder of Jews. But did you know that Poland is considering the erection of a museum dedicated the history of Hasidism? It is still under consideration. Al Jazeera reports, however, that they have dropped the idea of a museum to the Polokaust… a museum on the suffering and deaths of Poles by Nazis during WWII.
But to end the week on a high note… after an over 800 point drop in the DJIA…
….A story from Down Under and this Shabbat’s Mardi grad Parade in Sydney, NSW. Once again, a Jewish group – DAYENU – will have a float in the parade. ABC profiles Dr. Kim Gotlieb, a psychotherapist and grandson of a Wellington, New Zealand rabbi, who is a leader in the drag parade scene on his path to drag and synagogue leadership.