Shabbat shalom! Quick shout out to our cousin Ari Berman, joining the JNR community this week. And a tip of the hat to Chris Rock, the only person involved in this most tawdry affair worthy of any commendation.
What a crazy week. Amidst the 24/7 Ukrainian news cycle, there seems to be an endless flow of other notable news events that may be falling under our collective and cluttered radar screens (Ginny “whacko” Thomas, Israeli terror, Republicans voting against reducing the cost of insulin, and on and on). But, certainly one event that did not fall under the radar is the infamous “slap heard around the world”. I hate using that reference, as though you could ever equate the ignominious events during and after the Academy Awards with a real gunshot that led to the creation of the greatest democracy in world history. Nevertheless, something about Will Smith’s smackdown ignited the country and lit up social media and water cooler conversations across the nation. Hence, despite my lowly opinion of all things Hollyweird, I offer this rant: “F-you Will Smith!” I think my father’s favorite Muslim (he hated Kareem when he played for the Lakers) summarized it best in his Substack piece, “With a single petulant blow, he advocated violence, diminished women, insulted the entertainment industry, and perpetuated stereotypes about the Black community.” But, I reserve my more harsh criticisms for Smith’s “enablers” in Hollyweird: First, the majority of hypocritical morons that gave him a standing ovation, second, the nincompoops at the “virtuous” Vanity Fair that let him in to their post party to celebrate and dance away to his music all night, and lastly, the executives (Hudson and Rubin) at the Academy who sent Smith’s agent to ask him to leave, rather than asking him directly (why do these morons get paid over $1Million if they can’t at least do their jobs!) There was so much wrong on so many levels….this kind of nonsense can only in happen in Hollyweird.
On the Jew news front, the headlines out of Israel have been mostly ugly. After 20 years without any major acts of terrorism, a recent wave of attacks by Arab-Israelis has left at least 11 dead and many wounded, and have put the normally resilient Israelis on edge. While there was hope for calm before the start of Ramadan, that hope gave way to scenes of knifings and terrorist gunmen shooting randomly at victims. Most don’t believe this is a 3rd Intifada, as the Palestinians have mostly condemned the violence, but older generations with muscle memory of the violence that erupted after the Oslo Accords in the mid 90’s and after the failure of the Camp David peace agreement in the early 2000’s are worried about revenge attacks and an escalation of copy cats and other extremist events.
Now for the good news. As you all know, I have been a harsh critic of the orange turd and his sycophants ever since the a-hole descended from the Trump Tower escalator and announced his candidacy for President. And I do still believe, and always will, that he is a supreme a-hole. And I am also not a big fan of his douchie son-in-law, Jared Kushner. However, the Abraham Accords are proving to be the one bright spot on an otherwise dark and depraved four years of Trumpian torture. So, I will eat some crow on this and agree that yes, there appears to be progress on normalizing relations, commercial and political, with many other countries in the middle east as a result of the Accords negotiated by Jared and crew. I hope the momentum on that front continues to bear fruit.
My other bit of bright news on the Jew front is from listening to an interview with former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak. It was refreshing to hear him advocating strongly for a two-state solution, which he thinks is still very much within reach and will probably look a lot like what was discussed at Camp David many years ago. He also spoke eloquently of Israel’s moral role in the Ukrainian Russian war, saying in essence that, Israel, more than any other country, has a moral responsibility to take sides against a country threatening the existence of another country, and that doing so would not jeopardize Israel’s current detente with Russia regarding Syria and other Iranian proxies since Russia has keen interests in those regions that may be more serious than it’s detente with Israel.
Here are a few other news items carefully curated for your reading pleasure:
- Mensches With Wrenches (MWM) wins “Webby” Award – Sharon, MA – Launched earlier this year, the website for Mensches With Wrenches was awarded a “Webby”, the internet’s highest website design achievement. The site was recognized in the Webby “Weird” category, for sites that just seem strange, offbeat, or odd. This category includes sites that “reflect a fresh perspective in thought and action strong enough to start a revolution, change a behavior pattern, or provide a platform for a few old fogies to do something constructive with their free time — or that are just plain weird.” Upon accepting the award, the ever-so-humble co-founders Brad Goverman and Steven Holtzman, thanked their mom’s and then promptly slapped each other. April Fools!
- Give a “Get” or go to prison? As a follow up to last week’s note on this topic, here we have Britain throwing an Israeli ex-pat schmuck in jail for controlling and manipulating his Israeli wife for many years by refusing to grant her a divorce. Rule Britannia! Click here for more
- Bennett vows ‘Israel will overcome’ this wave of terror too – An update from the Times of Israel from Friday’s edition – With security forces on high alert, PM says authorities taking the initiative to thwart attacks, hunt down illegal weapons. In a series of tweets, Bennett said “Israel has known waves of severe attacks such as the Second Intifada that lasted several years, or the [wave of attacks in 2015 and 2016] in which 47 Israeli citizens were murdered, and after a little over a year we defeated the wave. “We will overcome them this time too, and we’ll strive to do so as fast as possible,” he said. For more click here.
- A scripted TV series about Russ & Daughters is in the works – Polish-Jewish immigrant Joel Russ opened the store in New York in 1914, and moved it to its still-operating location at 179 E. Houston St. in 1920. With his daughters Hattie, Ida and Anne as business partners, Russ & Daughters became the first business in America to add “& Daughters” to its name in 1935, according to its website. Now run by the 4th generation of the family, the iconic deli will be the subject and backdrop for a new television series. “What started as an immigrant story about pursuing a new life in America grew into generations of family members with their trials and tribulations set against the backdrop of dozens of critical moments in our society,” said Time Studios’ vice president of film and TV, Kaveh Veyssi. While their story is so specific and unique, there are elements of it that will appeal to everyone.” For more, click here.
- 👍 The Senate confirmed Deborah Lipstadt as the State Department’s antisemitism ambassador in a unanimous vote late Wednesday. Finally! The much-delayed confirmation occurred after an impassioned four-minute speech by Sen. Jon Ossoff, a Democrat from Georgia, in which he talked about his family that perished in the Holocaust. Lipstadt told the Forward following the vote: “This is a tremendous honor and responsibility and I pray that I will prove worthy of the task.” (Forward)
- It was never an advantage to be Jewish in Ukraine — until nowUkraine may be a country bloodstained in the imagination of American Jews by a succession of pogroms and centuries of anti-Jewish prejudice. But with more than 10 million Ukrainians displaced by Russian aggression over the past month, Larry Cohler-Esses found during a week in the border region that those who are Jewish are finding they have advantages over their neighbors. For more, click here.
- 🇺🇦 Russian shelling on Saturday struck a Holocaust memorial, damaging a nine-foot menorah in Dobitsky Yar, near Kharkiv. “During World War II, the Nazis executed about 20,000 people there,” President Zelenskyy said. “Eighty years later, they are killed a second time.” (JTA)
That’s all I’ve got for you this week. But hey, make sure you continue to be careful out there. This Covid crap is still amongst us! (Get well soon Judy!)