A group of Jews endeavors towards total domination of the blogosphere.

Saturday, February 28, 2004  


11 a.m. -- The National Council for Jewish Women hosts ``Once Again? The Return of Anti-Semitism,'' a discussion with authors Phyllis Chesler and Max Wallace; 820 Second Avenue, 2nd Floor.
11 a.m. -- Synagogue for the Arts presents an interactive concert for Purim by woodwind quintet Ariel Winds; 49 White Street.
Noon -- Simon Wiesenthal Center holds news conference to inaugurate its New York Tolerance Center with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Congressman Jerrold Nadler and other officials in attendance;
12:30 p.m. -- Northeast Queens Jewish Community Council, Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty and other groups announce pre-Passover food drive; Samuel Field YM&YWHA, 58-20 Little Neck Parkway, Queens

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 8:22 PM |

So you might've noticed the above ad banner. Google has chosen Protocols to participate in a trial run of their AdSense program for blogs; all clicks above earn Protocols cash. Obviously, we'd like for you to click on them and earn Protocols cash, since Protocols hasn't seen much income in its year-plus of providing content. More importantly, we'll have more freedom to cover more events and happenings if there's a reliable revenue stream here. Of course, we always welcome donations and encourage you to purchase goods by clicking on the Amazon links to the right.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 7:42 PM |

Friday, February 27, 2004  


10:30 a.m. -- Turkey's highest Islamic cleric, Ali Bardakoglu, president of the Turkish Ministry of Religious Affairs, speaks from synagogue pulpit; no cameras, tape recorders or writing permitted during service due to Sabbath restrictions, but they may be used for interviews outside service; Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, 3700 Henry Hudson Parkway.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 5:27 PM |

In desperate need of a router (preferably 802.11b, if possible) for a few days, until the one I've ordered arrives. If you happen to know someone who has one, I'd also appreciate a loan of a USB port PCMCIA card.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 4:26 PM |

Just a thought: To what degree do you think Evangelicals' love for The Passion is owed to the fact that Mel Gibson also rejects the Pope?

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 12:12 PM |

I spent all of yesterday with the delegation of French bishops that was taking a week-long crash course in Judaism; yesterday was the tour of Jewish New York with Prof. Jeffrey Gurock. I'll have more posts and some stuff in articles about it, but here's a cute cultural tidbit. While at Temple Emanu-El, the Administrator, Mark Heutlinger, told the famous joke about the Jew who gets stranded on an island. Now, the way I've always heard it, it goes like this:

The rescuers come to the island, and he shows them around, and they see he has two synagogues. "Why do you have two synagogues?" they ask. "This is the synagogue I attend and that synagogue -- I wouldn't be caught dead in there," he replies.
The way he told it:
The rescuers come to the island, and he shows them around, and they see he has three synagogues. "Why do you have three synagogues?" they ask. "This is the synagogue I used to go to, this is the synagogue that I go to now, and that synagogue -- I wouldn't be caught dead in there," he replies.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 12:11 PM |

Thursday, February 26, 2004  

Goan Sheini commented to Elder I.’s most recent post on the cardinals:

1) and 2) - R' Lamm sees himself as the Chief Rabbi of the US, so he called the media and made a big deal out of it. That's what politicians do, they call the media for free publicity. What was interesting was that no rabbis who were involved in the conference with the Cardinals were invited up to YU or the Beis and I don't think that R' Lamm was invited to the conference. Comments?
Goan Sheini, your gall is astounding.
1) Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm did not contact the media prior to the event.
2) Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm was invited to the rest of the conference.
3) Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm was in attendance at the conference.
4) The purpose of the visit to Yeshiva was for the Catholic delegation to be shown our way of learning. I am not sure the conference’s Jewish participants would have benefited much from making the trek to Washington Heights
I am not picking on Goan Sheini, but here is a perfect example of what has occurred since the visit of the cardinals. Many people have spoken out in opposition of the event and have done so with such arrogance and ignorance that it is a wonder they have the gumption to speak at all.
The Yaated used Rabbi Lau’s refusal to meet Cardinal Lustiger some years ago as proof that interacting with Cardinal Lustiger is bad. What the Yaated failed to mention, because they are ignorant of the facts and were only interested in ranking on Rabbi Lamm, is that Rabbi Lau not only came to this conference, but he addressed the conference more than once, and he sat next to Cardinal Lustiger during the speeches and at the meals.
The Yaated and others, including former and current RIETS roshei yeshiva, have deplored the brining of the tzaylem into the beis medrash. However, those who were actually in the beis medrash at the time may recall that most of the cardinals kept their coats on and closed, concealing their crosses. Others may remember seeing that the cardinals who had removed their crosses had tucked them into their sashes.
I will not deconstruct all of the criticism of this event, because presently, I don’t have the time. However, I had hoped that the debate surrounding the visit of the cardinals would have been educated and informed. Alas not.

posted by Pinchas | 12:22 PM |

'Jews Killed Jesus' Sign Causing Controversy
Pastor Refuses To Remove Or Change Saying On Outdoor Marquee
(via Catallarchy, via Sullivan)

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 7:26 AM |

Wow. I've just gotten back on my chair after having fallen off in response to reading the rejoinder to a reader's letter on Deah Vedibbur.
The letter is an asinine one, wondering why it's a good thing that a new workplace for Haredi women had opened, since any work would take them away from their rightful place in the home raising the kids. The obvious absurdity of this position (if the wife isn't supposed to work, and the husband is supposed to learn, who's paying for the kids' food, exactly?) aside, the response is shocking.

The Editor Replies:
The Jewish Mother is certainly raising valid points that cannot be dismissed. However, as we noted, the project is being done in coordination with leading educational figures in Bnei Brak. At press time we did not have authorization to identify them, but in our opinion they are reliable, and we assume that when the project is operative this vital information will be publicized.
We would assume that these educational authorities will ensure that women have flexible hours and probably an option for fewer hours. The writer and our readers should also remember that not all capable women have small children and generally the need for money is greater when the children get older.
Finally, it is important to realize that life is complex and there is no one right way and there are even many praiseworthy ways. It is important to provide opportunities for those who want to avail themselves, with the appropriate guidance and consultation. Not everyone should or can choose the ultimate approach.
(boldface mine)
Moral relativism? From a fervently reactionary Haredi news organ? Unbelievable. How about college, with "the proper guidance," of course...

posted by Sam | 12:51 AM |

Wednesday, February 25, 2004  

There'll be much more talk about the Cardinals in the Yeshiva University Beis Medrash, as it seems the issue keeps getting bigger and bigger. I haven't commented on it yet, so I'll just drop this tidbit for starters: this was not the first time that there were priests in the YU Beis Medrash; it was not even the first time that there were priests in the YU Beis Medrash in the past year. Last year, in February, a delegation of European star priests was brought to New York to take what amounted to a week-long crash course in Judaism, visiting everything from Hebrew Union College to Lubavitch, to many of the cultural institutions, as well. They visited the YU Beis Medrash and spent a couple of hours, first in conference with R' Zevulun Charlop, R' Michael Rosenzweig and R' Jeremy Wieder, as well as Kollel Elyon members R' Shmuel Hain and R' Ezra Schwartz, and then among the students of the Beis Medrash, with some roshei yeshiva scattered around, where they spoke with students about learning and presumably whatever topic piqued their interest.
There was no significant response by anyone inside our outside of YU, positive or negative. This year, the event has drawn responses from pretty much all parts of Orthodoxy. What made this time different? There are only two things:
1) The involvement of R' Norman Lamm.
2) The media coverage that it received.
Given that those are the only differences, we can draw various conclusions regarding the response that has developed.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 9:57 PM |

Reb Yudel writes, "Given that Avi Weiss would have picketed the crucifixition, what would hid placards had said?"
Go at it.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 9:30 PM |

Oh, man, it just keeps getting better and better:

6 p.m. -- New Black Panther Party protests Mel Gibson's ``The Passion of the Christ'' for ``wrongfully depicting Christ as a white man''; Loews Theatre, 312 W. 34th St.
Can we get reader volunteers to attend the various protests and send back reports (and take pictures, if possible)?

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 1:17 PM |


posted by Steven I. Weiss | 1:13 PM |

Even PETA's getting in on the act:

The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals staged a protest yesterday outside Gibson's beef cattle ranch in Columbus, Mont.
And tonight, they plan to picket a 6 o'clock screening of the movie at the UA Union Square theater.
The demonstration will feature a 10-foot "Jesus on stilts," and a salad of leaflets about "Christianity and Vegetarianism."
A PETA rep tells us they're not opposed to Gibson's movie, but to raising cattle for food, as they claim Gibson does at his Beartooth Ranch.
"We're saying 'Thou shalt not kill' to Mel Gibson," says the rep. "We're just saying people who oppose violence and injustice should extend that compassion to [all] God's creatures, and adopting a vegetarian diet is the best way to do that."
[Cut to: NUTTY ACTIVIST reading a list of today's protests]

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 11:57 AM |


3:45 to 4:30 p.m. -- Elizabeth Edwards, wife of Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, meets with the NY Board of Rabbis

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 11:39 AM |

The pile-on continues:

12:45 p.m. -- Coalition for Jewish Concerns-AMCHA holds press conference to give reaction to ``The Passion of the Christ''; City Reading Cinemas, 86th Street between 2nd and 3rd avenues.
--Note: demonstration at 6 p.m., Loews Theater, 84th Street and Broadway.
So, was their demonstration planned before they'd seen the movie?
UPDATE: According to Reuters, "Amcha, The Coalition for Jewish Concerns, planned to protest wearing concentration camp uniforms at one New York theatre to liken the film's portrayal of Jews as akin to the Nazi Holocaust." As well, Ephraim notes that the fliers advertising this protest contain the Yellow Star. There could be no protest of the film that would be more tasteless.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 11:38 AM |

The OU thinks The Passion may undermine Jewish faith. They don't seem to have a press release about this, so it's not very clear whether this is an initiative from the OU, or simply the reporter drawing out a story. Either way, it's an odd position for the OU to take. As Benyamin Cohen took care to note, the movie contains no doctrine other than the suffering of Jesus; there's no annunciation, no anointing, no prophecy, no miracles -- simply suffering. That such a movie is considered potentially harmful to Jews' faith speaks to the emphasis on Jewish suffering as a cornerstone of faith development, at least for the OU, and that's just sad.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 11:28 AM |

David Edelstein at Slate sounds an awful lot like Ben Cohen at Jewsweek in his review of The Passion.
Is there some weird rule that states that alternative publications need not know anything real about Christian theology?
Edelstein wins the funny writing contest, though, dubbing the Passion "The Jesus Chainsaw Massacre".

posted by Sam | 11:22 AM |

Naomi Wolf tries to drop a cover story bombshell on Yale and its literary theory superstar Harold Bloom in this week's New York Magazine. Accusing Bloom of putting a hand on her thigh when she was an undergrad student 20 years ago, Wolf goes on to indict an entire culture of silence at Yale regarding sexual harrassment complaints about faculty.
Aside from some breathless and truly putrid prose (examples to follow), the article boasts one of the most bizarre pics I've ever seen of Bloom (not a monster, she claims, but the implication is that he's a weird, doddering drunk), and some fairly Jewish interludes:

"Every Yom Kippur, Jewish tradition requires a strict spiritual inventory. You aren’t supposed to just sit around feeling guilty, but to take action in the real world to set things right. We pray, “Ashamnu. Bagadnu. We have acted shamefully . . . behaved wickedly.” The sin of omission is as serious as the sin of commission.
Every year, I wonder about the young women who might have suffered because I was too scared to tell the truth to the people whose job it is to make sure the institution is clean. I am not at peace when the sun sets and the Book of Life is sealed: I always see that soft spot of complicity."
is the most blatant.
The question you have to ask after reading this article is whether Wolf is actually serious. Trite bits such as
"The four of us ate a meal. He had, as promised, brought a bottle of Amontillado, which he drank continually. I also drank. We had set out candles—a grown-up occasion. The others eventually left and—finally!—I thought we could discuss my poetry manuscript. I set it between us. He did not open it. He did not look at it. He leaned toward me and put his face inches from mine. “You have the aura of election upon you,” he breathed.
I hoped he was talking about my poetry. I moved back and took the manuscript and turned it around so he could read.
The next thing I knew, his heavy, boneless hand was hot on my thigh.
I lurched away. “This is not what I meant,” I stammered. The whole thing had suddenly taken on the quality of a bad horror film. The floor spun. By now my back was against the sink, which was as far away as I could get. He moved toward me. I turned away from him toward the sink and found myself vomiting. Bloom disappeared.
When he reemerged—from the bedroom with his coat—a moment later, I was still frozen, my back against the sink. He said: “You are a deeply troubled girl.” Then he went to the table, took the rest of his sherry, corked the bottle, and left."
this aside, are we really to believe that Yale doesn't take sexual harrassment complaints seriously AT ALL? Can Ivy league schools, possibly the world's most obsessively politically correct places (short of Berkeley) really be so completely...well, 1950's?
Wolf's coda reads:
"There is something terribly wrong with the way the current sexual-harassment discussion is framed. Since damages for sexual misconduct are decided under tort law—tort means harm or wrong—those bringing complaints have had to prove that they have been harmed emotionally. Their lawyers must bring out any distress they may have suffered, such as nightmares, sexual dysfunction, trauma, and so on. Thus, it is the woman and her “frailties” under scrutiny, instead of the institution and its frailties. This victim construct in the law is one reason that women are often reluctant to go public."
A fair point, possibly the article's only worthwhile one, but it rings a little hollow. Is Wolf out for the greater good and not the resurrection of a flagging feminist career? YOU be the judge....

posted by Sam | 10:56 AM |

Tuesday, February 24, 2004  

Tomorrow, Abe Foxman becomes the last person to see The Passion:

2:30 p.m. -- ADL director Abraham Foxman holds press conference after viewing the final cut of ``The Passion of the Christ''; ADL national headquarters.
Of course, he's not the only one checking it out:
2:30 p.m. -- Representatives from the New York Board of Rabbis and The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights hold press conference following a noon screening of Mel Gibson's ``The Passion of the Christ''; UA theater, 64th Street and Second Avenue.
Other religion stuff:
12:15 p.m. -- Ash Wednesday Eucharist and Imposition of Ashes; Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, 1047 Amsterdam Ave., at 112th Street.
1 p.m. to 2 p.m. -- Council on Foreign Relations holds discussion forum on ``Terror in God's Name: The Threat of Islamic Extremism''; Council on Foreign Relations, 58 E. 68th St.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 9:56 PM |

Rick Richman does a fabulous job of fact-checking the claim that John Kerry's mention of Jimmy Carter, James Baker or Bill Clinton as a potential "Presidential Ambassador to the Peace Process," was a "staff mistake." He finds that the claim must be specious, as Kerry ad-libbed with the names following his initial statement, and then brought it up again during question-and-answer.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 7:52 PM |

"Well, after walking out of an advance screening, my first comprehensible thought was this: I really want to kill a Jew." Benyamin Cohen reviews The Passion. And then, "The film could've been about the crucifixion of Hitler and we would've felt bad for the guy."

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 3:24 PM |

A blog about -- but apparently not by -- Shmuley Boteach, at his new website.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 1:28 PM |

Heeb has a party tonight:

The New Jew Review and Modular Mood Records bring you Playground, a monthly lounge party, which debuts Tuesday, February 24 at the Knitting Factory Tap Bar. The opening night will feature art installations, film projections, impromptu dance performances, random acts of mindfulness, assorted breakfast cereals, and the hip hop, break beats, Ashkenazi samples, and Yemenite melodies of dj handler. FREE!
8:00 PM
at Knitting Factory Tap Bar, 74 Leonard Street (Between Broadway & Church)
Presumably, those in attendance can lick chocolate off of Josh Neuman's crucifix nipple ring.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 1:25 PM |

But blogs are supposed to be ahead of the trend. Beliefnet's B-Log, amazingly, gets scooped by the NYT on the Williamsburg Hasidim/Hipsters story, posting on it only yesterday.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 1:21 PM |

It's the weekend of the dueling singles shabbatons! Both are clamoring for attendees, including with advertisements at Frumster.
First, there's Isralight:

It's the sold-out, spiritually creamy, Florida funkatron!
And then there's the more frum one...

It's "endorsed by leading rabbanim & gedolei torah!" What does that even mean? Has there been a lot of forbidding entrance at other weekend-long events devoted to people in their early thirties who just aren't pretty enough to cut it in a singles scene where the participants aren't locked down for 48 hours?
But I think I've figured out the difference. Frummies:

Unlimited entry to spa, pools, fitness center

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 8:02 AM |

Monday, February 23, 2004  


11 a.m. -- James Tisch and Malcolm Hoenlein of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations hold press conference to offer their personal accounts of the recent bombing in Jerusalem and to discuss the International Court of Justice hearings at the Hague on Israel's security fence
11:15 a.m. -- Assemblyman Dov Hikind and City Council member Simcha Felder denounce Mel Gibson's new film, ``The Passion of the Christ''; AMC Empire 25 Theater Times Square, 42nd Street, between Seventh and Eighth avenues.
Times Square? What gives -- no movie theaters in Brooklyn?
1:00 PM -- Five finalists compete in chicken soup contest; Abigael's on Broadway, 1407 Broadway, at 39th Street.
--9:30 a.m. _ Finalists begin preparing recipes.
--1:15 p.m. _ Final tasting.
1 p.m. -- New York Civil Liberties Union holds press conference regarding alleged religious discrimination by the Salvation Army
Big day. Too bad my USB port's blown out, or I could cover some of it live.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 11:59 PM |

It always seemed to me that it'd make sense if we had something akin to Gawker Stalker and Wonkette's Wonk'd, in which Jewish celebrity sightings gathered by readers are noted. I figure I'll get the ball rolling.
At tonight's Seforim Sale:
Jewish Center Assistant Rabbi Eitan Mayer crossing Amsterdam Ave. in a very tzioni regalia of blue pants, white shirt, and windbreaker-esque jacket; full beard still in evidence.
Famed anti-Brill Revel Graduate School Professor Dr. Hayim Soloveitchik examining volumes at the YU table and then leaving.
Teaneck's Keter Torah's Rabbi Shalom Baum and son examining responsa literature and Jewish history.
JTS Professor Neil Danzig giving me a ride home.
In book news, the funniest volume at the sale thus far: I'm not positive of the title, because I took a picture with my Treo but burned out my USB port looks like V'Aleihu Lo Yivol and it was a volume of remembrances of R' Shlomo Zalman Auerbach. It contains an approbation from R' Auerbach's son saying the book "leaves a bad taste in the mouth" and dismisses it for containing "jokes." One of the positive approbations, from R' Nebenzahl, wishes a mazel tov on the birth of the author's son, and not much else. I didn't spend a lot of time with the book, but even just the approbations offer more entertainment than your average Jewish studies book.
I'm a lot more restrained on purchasing this year. I purchased only a small paperback set of mishnayos that were selling for $5.75, roughly a quarter of the purchase price of any other set of mishnayos, and it seems of relatively high quality.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 10:56 PM |

So I'm doing an article on Marc Shapiro's new book, The Limits of Orthodox Theology, which presents the historical argument that Maimonides' 13 Principles of Faith were not universally-accepted doctrine among traditional Jews. Thus far, the arguments against him have essentially been that it doesn't matter if there once was disagreement, so long as there is agreement now; as a matter of the Darwinian halachic approach, those arguing against him say, it doesn't matter that those who preceded us may have disagreed.
From what I hear, the book is the best-selling volume at the Seforim Sale this year, so I'm guessing that a number of our readers have their own informed opinions of the book; so what do you think?

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 6:34 PM |


JTS is full of theorists, and they are constantly producing lovely little treatises about combining tradition with modernity -- not unlike many of the speeches one hears at (Modern Orthodox) Edah conferences
This from a woman who went from Modern Orthodox to Conservative...that's gotta hurt. Though I must say that I disagree, inasmuch as a large portion of Edah sessions tend to get into nitty-gritties of halachic decision-making, highlighting processes and rationales along the way.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 6:18 PM |

Via Instapundit, Coling Powell's remarks on the occasion of George Kennan's centenary birthday, in which he says:

Last year the President took a large political step, with political risk, when he put enough pressure on the Palestinian side for them to come forward with somebody who could be seen as a peacemaker, the new Prime Minister Abu Mazen. And we went to Aqaba. The President stood there with the new Prime Minister, King Abdullah of Jordan and with Prime Minister Sharon, and everybody committed to the roadmap and the President's vision.
Unfortunately, it didn't work because the Palestinians were unable -- and I put the blame squarely on Mr. Arafat -- Arafat was not willing to provide authority to Abu Mazen to take control of the security organizations and to go after terrorism and speak out against terrorism -- not to start a civil war of the Palestinian communities and the Palestinian Authority, but to start moving against terrorism.
First reaction: "George Kennan is still alive?!?!?!?"
Second reaction: "Bold, adequate and appropriate."
Of course, this is an appropriate moment at which to ponder how and if Israel's policies have cohered with Kennan's policies of containment, and to what degree they should. I'll quote here a portion of Kennan's secret State Department telegram regarding the Soviets from 1946:
1. Soviet power...does not take unnecessary risks....For this reason it can easily withdraw -- and usually does -- when strong resistance is encountered ata any point. Thsu, if the adversary has sufficient force and makes clear his readiness to use it, he rarely has to do so....
2.Gauged against Western World as a whole, Soviets are still by far the weaker force. Thus, their success will really depend on degree of cohesion, firmness and vigor which Western World can muster....
3.Success of Soviet system, as form of internal power, is not yet finally proven....
4.All Soviet propaganda beyond Soviet security sphere is basically negative and destructive. It should therefore be relatively easy to combat it by any intelligent and really constructive program.
His proposals for action:
1.Our first step must be to apprehend, and recognize for what it is, the nature of the movement with which we are dealing....
2. We must see that our public is educated to realities of Russian situation....
3. Much depends on health and vigor of our own society. World communism is like malignant parasite which feeds only on diseased tissue.
4. We must formulate and put forward for other nations a much more positive and constructive picture of sort of world we would like to see than we have put forward in past....
5. Finally we must have courage and self-confidence to clingo to our own mehtods and conceptions of human society. After all, the greatest danger that can befall us in coping with this problem of Soviet communism, is that we shall allow ourselves to become like those with whom we are coping.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 5:46 PM |

Great headline on a story about the same-sex marriages in San Francisco cites "An afternoon of Shehechiyanu moments".

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 3:25 PM |

Last week, Ami Eden had a pretty stupid post about Jews who control the Bush administration (via a mind-meld of some sort, assuredly). But the part that really got me going was his citation of this Michael Kinsley piece on AIPAC. The most significant assertion of that article at the time was, of course:

It asserts that the top item on the Zionist "agenda" is curbing the power of Saddam Hussein.
As I've written previously (2nd paragraph from the bottom), this assertion of Kinsley's was false, and he essentially admitted as much in an e-mail to me. I e-mailed with Jacob Weisberg, Slate's editor, about this, asking him if he expected to post a correction, and he said he'd talk with Kinsley about it; almost a year after the piece was published, and the most false and inflammatory assertion in it still stands uncorrected.
When I was at the Voice, I was asked to do research on the essentially anti-Semitic assertion that Israel was controlling the Bush administration in its move against Saddam. I produced dozens of documents and articles that seemed to show otherwise, and then I recalled Kinsley's piece; I considered not giving it to my boss, since it was one small sentence saying that Israel had influenced the decision among many thousands saying it hadn't, but I included it in the stack of articles for the sake of honesty. Sure enough, my boss called me back referencing that one sentence in that one article, and asked me to look into it. It was the one string with which the argument remained attached to any sense of reality; I looked into it, and Kinsley admitted he'd likely made a mistake. That sentence still stands uncorrected, and it's still the only leg on which the argument that the Zionist lobby pushed the Bush administration to war in Iraq stands.
UPDATE: So it's been brought to my attention that at least some readers would rather I explain why Eden's post was "pretty stupid." Here goes: if the picture of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations meeting with Bush revealed anything, it is how much they lack influence. Twenty-odd Jews clamoring for a seat at a table with Bush is less impressive, even, than the attention given a smaller group of small-business owners last week. Aside from that, though, is the plain reality that nearly every major American organization that isn't militantly opposed to Administration policy will likely meet with the president for some period of time during his term. The Conference picture doesn't indicate undue, disproportionate, or special influence on the part of the Conference; it merely shows them meeting with the president, something that happened, is true, and is reasonable in light of GWB's meeting with other leaders and groups. Thomas Friedman's incorrect claims about Jewish influence on politics were an extremely far cry from some businessmen posting a picture on a website.
We have two facts to deal with: That Friedman was, firstly, wrong; that Friedman's wrong statement did hit on anti-Semitic memes and, therefore, fueled them.
Eden wants to make the claim presented by Kinsley, that Jewish organizations themselves claim a similar level of influence and therefore they are as much responsible for the anti-Semitic meme as anyone else. Of course, the relevance of Kinsley's argument at the time turned on the necessary reality that AIPAC was pushing war with Iraq; it wasn't, he was wrong, and the connection of J-lobbying to the Iraq war -- and, thusly, some legitimacy for those anti-Semites who argued there was one -- deflated.
The rest of Kinsley's article was mostly fluff -- the turning of simple statements about influence and organization into something seemingly-nefarious by pulling them out of context and describing them with loaded language; basically, he did what anti-Semites do in intentionally misinterpreting statements by and about Jews. And to restate what can continue to be restated: Kinsley's point as regards the Iraq war -- statements about which prompted his writing the column -- was absolutely false.
It's hard to address the idea of Eden and Kinsley arguing as one, since Eden's citation of a picture is prima facie ridiculous, while Kinsley at least gives a shot at serious argument. Nevertheless, what is missing from both is that the essential difference between acknowledgment of Jewish influence by Jews and philo-Semites contains the very context that anti-Semitism ignores when it places Jewish influence above the influence of other constituencies and lobbying groups. No one disputes that Jews can be influential; what raises our ire is when anti-Semites indicate a level of influence that's disproportionate or impossible. As well, anti-Semitism disallows the possibility of personal autonomy by replacing it with the influence of nefarious groups. It is a position of willing ignorance that says that Bush does not have his own reasons for maintaining certain positions on Israel; absent Jewish influence, there is no reason to think he'd be tossing back beers with Arafat. Anti-Semites fail to recognize this, as do those who claim an equivalence among the lobbyists and the anti-Semites.
It was not Friedman's claim that Bush supports Sharon's policies that made him a jackass fueling anti-Semitism, it was Friedman's claim that Bush supports Sharon because Sharon's got Bush by the balls with a nefarious network of collaborating cabalists that did the deed. His argument was foolish because it ignored...well, it ignored reality as those not donning tin-foil hats know it, but also it ignored the fact that Bush can operate in a right-wing manner on Israel without Jews telling him what to do. That's the context Friedman misses, that Eden misses in defending him, and that Kinsley missed in preceding him.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 11:02 AM |

It's official: Rabbi David Weiss-Halivni has the funniest voicemail of any Jewish scholar I've ever tried to contact. I'm not gonna print his phone number here, 'cause I'm not looking to start a torrent of calls to his office. But if you're interested, look him up in the Columbia directory and call at midnight.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 10:43 AM |

Head Heeb has another post on Iraqi Jews identifying as Arabs.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 12:38 AM |

Oh, goodness. Nextbook is advertising itself over at Arts & Letters Daily.
Is this just another too-well-funded Jewish culture effort?
UPDATE: Apparently not too-well-funded to get a decent copy-editor.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 12:33 AM |

Sunday, February 22, 2004  


Noon -- The Coalition for Jewish Concerns protests the United Nations Israel policy; Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, 47th Street at First Avenue.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 8:42 PM |

Today on PBS' "Religion & Ethics Newsweekly" series, they'll be discussing culpability for Jesus' death in light of The Passion. In NYC, that's Channel 13 at 6:30 PM today.
The competition on Food Network is Alton Brown on cheesecakes, which appears to be a repeat from last Wednesday.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 5:29 PM |

NY Daily News gossip columnists Rush & Molloy detail celebrities's religious leanings:

If column inches translate into ticket sales, the furor over Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ," which opens on Wednesday, will make it a box-office smash.
But Gibson isn't the only public figure who has controversial religious views.
To Bill Gates, it's a management issue. The Microsoft chief says: "Religion is not very efficient. There's a lot more I could be doing on a Sunday morning."
Gates might have common cause with actor John Malkovich. He says: "I believe in people, I believe in humans, I believe in a car, but I don't believe in something I can have absolutely no evidence of."
Not every celebrity is so down on the man upstairs. Britney Spears spent Grammy Sunday with her mother at a Baptist church in Los Angeles. Wesley Snipes says, "I never fail to pray before a meal."
For all her "dirrrtyness," Christina Aguilera says, "Right before I get onstage, I gather my band and dancers in my dressing room. We hold hands and my bass player leads us in prayer, or sometimes I'll lead the prayer."
Reliably kooky Courtney Love thanks the Church of Scientology on her new CD, "America's Sweetheart," but says she also attends a Baptist church in South Central Los Angeles every other Sunday. "When they say, 'Father,' I just replace that with 'Mother,' " she says.
Engelbert Humperdinck takes it a step further: He's now a faith healer: "I discovered I had the gift 10 years ago, and I have been doing it occasionally ever since."
Janeane Garofalo seems to be having a bet both ways. She told Webster Hall curator Baird Jones: "I am almost certain there is no heaven, but if there is, I want to make sure I have just enough faith to get in."

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 11:18 AM |

I was in conversation earlier tonight with an old friend, catching up on our various projects and goals and so forth. She's living in Israel, but I didn't know where.

Her: something just happened...
Me: ?
Her: I don't know... there are too many sirens outside.
Her: do you see this?
Me: see what
Her: a bus blew up in Rechavia
Me: is that near you?
Her: um. yes.
Her: up the street.
Her: it's why the sirens are so loud.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 3:44 AM |
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