Archive for July, 2008
This week in the NJJN:
Obama’s Mideast jaunt leaves local voters neither shaken nor stirred.
I’m okay, you’re…tolerable: Rabbi Alan Brill reports on the Saudi king’s interfaith summit.
Jewish world mourns New Jersey’s June Walker, who led Hadassah and the Presidents’ Conference.
I polish my Obama humor musings into a column:
Comedians, who’ve tagged McCain as “old,” are still struggling to find that unshakeable comedic label for Obama. They’ve tried smug, messianic, self-righteous. Jackie Mason calls him an empty suit, a “doorman.” And still Obama slips the punch line.
So I get a press release from the Helsinki Commission with this headline:
INGUSHETIA: THE NEW HOT SPOT IN THE NORTH CAUCASUS
and I figure, cool! South Beach is so over, and Provence is too crowded — how do I get there? But then I read on to find out:
But the republic that has reverberated most tragically with the echoes of violence in Chechnya is Ingushetia, bordering directly on Chechnya’s west. It is here, Moscow claims, that Chechen partisans and Islamic radicals have established a second front to continue their insurgency against the Russian central government. However, many human rights advocates and Ingush activists charge that Moscow’s heavy-handed response has produced a wave of violence and lawlessness against innocent citizens that is exacerbating, rather than ameliorating, the situation.
In the “is nothing sacred?” category: Hillel Halkin criticizes Obama on the CONTENTS OF HIS PRAYERS.
Frankly, I’d feel a bit better about Mr. Obama if his prayer had simply said, “Lord, help me to be president.” It’s perhaps churlish of me, but the suspicion lurks that that’s what he would have written had he felt sure it would not have ended up in the newspapers.
Churlish is a nice way of putting it. But how can a presidential candidate, especially one as scrutinized as Obama, ever trust that so private an action would not become public?
Frankly, I’d feel a bit better about Mr. Halkin if he had a little rachmones for a guy surrounded by an army of bloggers and pundits ready to pounce on his slightest misstep in Israel.
Besides, what kind of creep stands humbled at the base of a holy site and writes “Lord, get me that promotion” or “Lord, help me win this law suit”? Wouldn’t the average person be more likely to be inspired to, I don’t know, elevate his language? “Dear Lord, in your infinite wisdom, may you give me the strength to live up to my potential, and others the wisdom to appreciate my gifts”, that sort of thing? It’s the Kotel, for God’s sake, not a Ouija board.
Meanwhile, other bloggers are trying to make hay of Ma’ariv’s response that Obama’s note was “approved for publication in the international media even before he put in the Kotel.” Obama’s people deny this, however.
And then there’s this weird statement from the Ma’ariv spokesman, in response to a lawyer’s charge that the newspaper had violated Obama’s privacy:
“In any case, since Obama is not a Jew, publishing the note does not constitute an infringement on his right to privacy.”
I am so proud.
Stop the presses: Manischewitz says its Tam Tams are returning to supermarkets this week. As the NJJN first reported, the company didn’t produce the popular crackers in time for Passover due to engineering and construction delays at its new Newark facility.
Buit the company sent out a release today saying the factory is back on line:
“The upgrading of our plant and ovens in our Newark, New Jersey facility in 2007, required us to shut down for a short period of time to install a new state-of-the-art matzo and cracker ovens,” said David Rossi, VP, Marketing, R.A.B. Food Group . “We are grateful for our consumers support during this time and are proud to say that the Tam Tams you know and love are back and better than ever.”
Really? Better than ever? Our crack(er) reporters will be asking if the recipe or anything else has changed. Say tuned.
Looks like somebody complained after Jack Rosen, chairman of the American Jewish Congress, gave the thumb’s up to Obama for president. Rosen wrote in the Jerusalem Post:
In sum, we have much more reason to have confidence in Obama than we had at a similar stage in the candidacies of the predecessors who made the greatest contributions to the US-Israel relationship.
Just now AJCongress sent out a news release emphasizing that it, as a tax-exempt organization, does “not endorse candidates for elective office.” But its lay leaders may speak for themselves.
Here’s the statement:
AJCongress Statement on Political Endorsements
July 28, 2008 – The American Jewish Congress wishes to clarify its position concerning the upcoming presidential election.
The American Jewish Congress as a matter of law and of its own policy does not endorse candidates for elective office. At the same time, its officers and lay leaders are free to do so, so long as they speak for themselves and not for the organization. The IRS has repeatedly stated that lay officials of tax-exempt organizations may engage in political activity so long as they make plain that they speak for themselves and not a tax-exempt organization. During the current Presidential campaign, our lay leaders supported a wide variety of candidates.
The AJCongress has no position on the upcoming election. While its members may chose to do so in their individual capacity, the AJCongress has not, and will not, endorse anyone for President of the United States. It looks forward to working with the next President of the United States, without regard to which candidate is elected.
I wasn’t going to bother with the whole Obama humor deficit thing, until I began wondering if anyone compared Obama humor to Lieberman humor.
It’s a useful compare and contrast. Like Obama, Leiberman as vice presidential candidate under Gore was breaking ethnic ground — the first in his ethnic group to be considered for so high an office. Like Obama, Lieberman had a squeaky-clean, even sanctimonious, reputation in 2000.
So why were there more Lieberman jokes? Could it suggest that America is more willing to mock Jews than blacks, and Jews are more accepting of such jokes? The short answer is yes. The long answer is — well, first consider what was funny about Lieberman the First Jewish Vice Presidential Candidate. (more…)
Even by its own weird standards, an essay by Richard V. Allen in the WJS about Obama’s foreign policy experience or lack thereof says…absolutely nothing.
Allen, a foreign policy aide to Nixon and Reagan, runs down the foreign policy credentials of the last seven presidents, from Nixon to George W. Bush, to whom he devotes exactly one sentence:
George W. Bush, of course, had virtually no international experience, yet was able to rally the nation in response to 9/11.
Remember the rally? I still have my t-shirt.
So here’s Allen’s scorecard:
Nixon: “vast international experience in extensive travels as vice president.” Presidential performance: opened China.
Johnson: Very experienced. Performance: “strong proponent of a bipartisan foreign and national security policy”
Ford: “Solid experience.” Performance: no assessment given
Carter: “no significant foreign experience.” Performance: brokered Egypt-Israel peace deal, badly misjudged Soviets, failed to rescue Iranian hostages
Reagan: “voracious reader, researcher and writer” whose preparation prior to 1980 was “methodical” — travelling overseas in 1978. Performance: no assessment provided.
George H.W. Bush: Very experienced. Performance: no assessment provided.
Bill Clinton: Studied at Oxford, travelled widely, overseas trips as governor. Performance: no assessment provided.
Geroge W. Bush: No experience. Performance: Great rally-er.
John McCain: Very experienced
So, when we hear about Barack Obama’s extensive “experience” in foreign affairs, most of which will be recently acquired in a mere week of travel amid media fanfare, it should be judged in the context of the experience quotients of his predecessor candidates for the presidency.
Judged in what context exactly? Allen doesn’t even bother to tell us how he thinks most of the presidents did in the foreign policy realm, or suggest how their experience or lack thereof matched their performance. Like his decision to punt on W.’s legacy (the “rally” lasted about six months of his seven-and-half years in office, and preceded two wars), the entire article is a worthless and un-serious performance.
If he had a set of cojones and really wanted to rattle Obama supporters, he might write: “If you don’t think foreign policy experience counts, check out he last seven years.” But how would that sit with his colleagues at the Hoover Institution?
IsraelNN.com reports on a rather one-sided request from a right-wing coalition:
Jewish Groups Challenge Obama: Show Support for United Jerusalem(IsraelNN.com) The Coalition for a United Jerusalem held a news conference in the capital Tuesday night to demand that US Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama express unequivocal support for the unification of Jerusalem under Jewish sovereignty.
The Coalition, which represents a group of Jewish organizations including the American Israeli Action Coalition, the Council of Young Israel Rabbis in Israel, Emunah Women, the Rabbinical Council of America in Israel, the Worldwide Young Israel Movement and the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), called on Obama to reaffirm his positive views for the future of Jerusalem.
Will they be asking McCain for his “reaffirmation” as well? Here’s where he stands on the “unification” issue, according to Randy Scheunemann, McCain’s top foreign policy adviser:
“Sen. McCain has said that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, that it is undivided today, that we should move our embassy there,” Scheunemann said. “And if a democratic government of Israel chooses to accept an alteration of that status, he’s certainly not going to second-guess a democratic government of Israel.”
Which sounds like a perfectly sane position, and is basically indistinguishable from Obama‘s:
I continue to say that Jerusalem will be the capital of Israel. And I have said that before and I will say it again. And I also have said that it is important that we don’t simply slice the city in half, but I’ve also said that that’s a final status issue. That’s an issue that has to be dealt with with the parties involved, the Palestinians and the Israelis, and it is not the job of the United States to dictate the form in which that will take, but rather to support the efforts that are being made right now to resolve these very difficult issues that have a long history.