The skies are gray here in New England, and a heat wave is moving in over the eastern seaboard. The heat and humidity should help the gardens, but will not do much to improve my mood which has been taking a beating from all the doom and gloom I cannot avoid due to my addiction to the news, podcasts, and social media. Wars, both real and cultural, baby formula shortages, a tanking stock market, Monkey Pox, a new Covid surge, mass shootings, replacement theory, and blah blah blah. But, a few rays of hope emerged during the week as well. Shout outs to my niece Natalie, who graduated from Northeastern with a rainbow of honor chords around her graduation gown and a cool job lined up at Apple, and another shout out to my brother Bill and family, who closed on their new house in Staunton, Virginia. Mazel tov!
While I was horrified by the Buffalo mass shooting, I was not shocked. It was, in my opinion, the inevitable and hateful extension of the Great Replacement conspiracy that has become the mantra for mainstream Republicans and Fox media in order to incite the base and make money respectively. There is clearly blood on Fucker Carlson’s hands, and he knows it.
“His response was telling: the greatest threat to Americans is not the hateful rhetoric espoused by the shooter — which Carlson admitted was “definitely racist, and bitterly so,” while dismissing the shooter as “diseased.” No: it’s the “ruthlessness and dishonesty” of Democrats, whom Carlson claims want to limit the proliferation of any speech they hate. Mere minutes after Carlson’s segment on the shooting, his show pivoted to a video of a long line of immigrants seeking shelter: Carlson’s guest decried that “migrant encounters” were on the rise, as if immigrants are wild animals rather than human beings in search of a better life.”
Well, I hate Fucker Carlson, and I proclaim to be one of many Jews who want him replaced. I am thinking we need to replace the replacement conspiracy with a new one: Jews That Greatly Want to Replace Racist Pigs. Probably could come up with something catchier, but you get my point. The real problem here is that we are still dealing with the ripple effects of the Orange Turd and his mainstreaming of racism, anger and hate, all historical threads of this country that used to be part of the 10-15% fringe on the right, but because of Trump and his sycophants, are now part of the mainstream of the Republican party. Think I am exaggerating? Latest poll shows nearly half of Republicans believe in the replacement bullshit Carlson is peddling. Scary. After the Anti-Defamation League called for Fox to fire Carlson, Republican whack-job Matt Gaetz called the ADL a “racist organization”.
To end on a positive note, I was very heartened by the Buffalo Jewish Community’s response to the shooting and their support of the black community. Since the only supermarket in the area is now indefinitely closed, the JCRC and other Jewish organizations have focused on donations to food charities to help close the retail food gap, and they have been attending prayer vigils and services in support as well.
Meanwhile, back in the homeland, Israeli Prime Minister Bennet’s coalition is clinging to life, while most Israelis are still squawking about the incompetence and insensitivity of the Jerusalem police in their response to the funeral procession of the Palestinian journalist killed in crossfire over a week ago. I assume a certain level of competence and confidence in all things Israel, but based on the facts, I need to revisit that assumption. According to reports, during what was probably the most potentially volatile event in recent history, the chief of the Jerusalem police was on a junket in Germany, and it wasn’t even his Deputy that gave the order to rush the procession, but his Deputy’s Deputy. So far, there is no official response from Jerusalem police or the politicians. The PR on this could not be worse. Come on Israel, you can do better.
What else? Without further ajieu, here are some carefully curated selections for your reading enjoyment:
- During Jewish-American Heritage Month, the White House celebrated a great (Jewish) American tradition. Shawn Green was an early-aughts baseball icon: A power hitter who recorded one of the best single-game performances in Major League history. He’s also a Jew who consulted Sandy Koufax about whether to play on Yom Kippur. At a Zoom talk Thursday, Green spoke about the Rosh Hashanah where he stepped up to the plate and greeted the opposing team’s Jewish catcher — only to learn the umpire was Jewish, too. “I was proud,” he said, to “always have a small little fan base in every city of Jewish kids.” Read the story ➤
- 🇮🇱 Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s embattled government lost its Knesset majority Thursday when an Arab lawmaker in the leftist Meretz party quit the coalition over what she called its “hawkish, hard-line and right-wing positions.” The lawmaker, Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi, cited recent police actions in clashes on the Temple Mount and at the funeral of a slain journalist. Separately, a right-wing activist was indicted for allegedly sending bullets to Bennett and his family as a threat. (Haaretz, Times of Israel)
- Forever in Blue Jeans – On this week in history: The German-born Jewish businessman Levi Strauss and his Latvian-born Jewish associate, a tailor named Jacob Davis, received a patent on May 20, 1873, allowing them to make a new type of garment: blue jeans. At the time, the denim pants were most notable for the metal rivets on their pockets, which made them more durable for the gold miners who wore them. But jeans eventually came to symbolize much more: American capitalism, rugged individualism and a rebellious spirit. They became so culturally powerful that during the Cold War, East Germany banned the sale of Levi’s Jeans until economic problems forced the government to begin allowing them again. As of 2015, Levi’s controls about 11% of the United States denim market, a $15 billion industry.
- Borat for kids – “Chelm: The Smartest Place on Earth” is an animated HBO Max special featuring Sacha Baron Cohen. Chelm, the real-life Polish shtetl, took on a mythic identity as a village of fools: a land populated and governed entirely by idiots, who solve problems in hilarious counterintuitive fashion. “This unique project will breathe new, hysterical life into the nonsensical Chelmic wisdom that originated from this imaginary city of folks who aren’t quite the sharpest tools in the shed,” Amy Friedman, head of kids and family programming at HBO parent company Warner Bros., said in the release. Click here for more.
- 🇮🇱 Lag B’Omer celebrations at Israel’s Mount Meron stayed peaceful and safe — with 8,000 police officers on hand, a year after a stampede killed 45 people at the festival popular with Orthodox Jews. Police made multiple arrests of people they said intended to force their way into the event without tickets. (Associated Press)
- What the Buffalo shooter’s screed says about Jews: Saturday’s supermarket massacre targeted Black people, and 11 of the 13 people shot were Black. But the 180-page diatribe the 18-year-old suspect posted online spends more space demonizing Jews, mentioning the word more than 100 times and emphasizing his antisemitism with bold, capitalized letters and exclamation points. Read the story ➤
- ‘Nazi Billionaires’: New book chronicles the exploits of wealthy dynasties who cozied up to the Third Reich – Financial incentives fostered popular support for the Hitler’s regime from families that today own German auto companies such as BMW, Porsche and Volkswagen; European luxury hotels; and American brands including Krispy Kreme, Panera Bread and Dr Pepper. “It is galling to learn how readily these businessmen — whose 1930s empires included weapons manufacturing, energy, transportation and banking — agreed to fund the Nazi Party,” Julia M. Klein writes in a review. Read the story ➤
That’s all folks! And I know I say this every week, but believe me, this latest surge is no joke. Be careful out there!