Another gorgeous day here in New England, and a great day to launch our book club with a southern style backyard BBQ, a thematic food choice supporting this month’s selection, “Where the Crawdads Sing”, by Delia Owens. So, while gnawing on a few ribs and chowing down some peppered cornbread, we will be discussing the themes of the book, a major one being that intolerance is limiting and the more you accept that notion, the more you can grow as a person.
That theme resonated with me this week as I contemplated the throwing of the Presidential gauntlet by California Governor Gavin Newsome in the direction of the brute from Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis. The “telegenic” governor from California sent a not so subtle message to the “punchy populist” governor from Florida in the form of a TV advertisement on DeSantis’s home turf. “Freedom is under attack in your state,” Newsom declares in the ad, citing moves by Florida’s Republican leaders to ban books, limit classroom discussion of controversial topics, and roll back access to abortions. “I urge all of you [living in Florida] to join the fight, or join us in California.”
I love this potential matchup. It would be the ultimate in tribal warfare and could potentially rid the country of the orange turd once and for all, (although his stench will continue to stink up the country for decades). With old man Biden’s popularity stuck in Trumpian territory, no one else waiting in the wings, Gavin seems like a decent choice, a fresh, young, Kennedy-like candidate who could certainly motivate the base as well as the center, although he will be slammed for the homeless issue, and tax policies that are driving companies out of the State. Rather than slamming DeSantis for his anti-gay shenanigans, and letting the main stream media influence my judgement, I have checked my intolerance at the door and dug in a bit on DeSantis, and here is what I have learned: he is not just a smarter, more hard working Trump. In fact, he is not very Trump-ish at all. And while I can’t stand the guy, he is at least a credible candidate who will take our democracy and constitution seriously. For a more balanced review, here is a link to Andrew Sullivan’s Substack entry on the “DeSantis Dilemma”, where he basically argues that DeSantis is our best hope at being rid of the orange turd. Click here.
If books are not your thing, my sister pointed out a great new TV Series from Masterpiece Theater called “Hotel Portofino”. You will easily be seduced by the lush landscapes of this gorgeous part of Italy, or by the equally gorgeous cast showing us the privileged life of the 1920’s in this part of the world. Two thumbs up from Sandy and I. Very reminiscent of the Australian award winning 1950’s period piece we both loved, “A Place to Call Home”, offered on Acorn TV or Hulu, I think.
But by far, the most compelling and entertaining media these last several weeks have been the January 6 hearings. Watching these hearings makes me once again feel some pride in our government and it’s ability to actually come together and do something right that is above tribal politics. The committee will rightfully wrap things up next Thursday, and we can only hope the Justice Department will indict the turd and his enablers so we can see them all in orange.
Now, how about some Jew news! And lots of it, including our dear President fist bumping his way through the middle east! Way to go Joe! Israel has welcomed US President Joe Biden with all due official pomp and circumstance, and he has been busy, paying a poignant visit to Yad Vashem, viewing Israel’s defense technology, and meeting with Prime Minister Yair Lapid, Nutt-and-yahoo, and other dignitaries. But some analysts are scratching their heads trying to figure out why he is really there and what he hopes to accomplish with this trip to the Middle East. One of the stops on Biden’s itinerary is a rare evening appearance for the opening ceremonies of the Maccabiah games. Some 10,000 Jewish athletes and support staff have arrived in the Holy Land to participate in a variety of sporting events over the next three weeks. What’s Biden’s role there? But, the question on everyone’s mind is whether the trip will result in an expansion of the Abraham Accords to Saudi Arabia. Is this just media hype, or a realistic achievement?
How interesting to see our human rights-minded President cozying up to Saudi’s Kashoggi killer, MBS, otherwise know as Mohammed “Bone Saw” bin Salman. Kidding aside, I am ok with Uncle Joe and MBS playing nice. We have cozied up to much more undesirable leaders in the past, and we really do need to lower the gas prices and get inflation under wraps. So, do what you must Joe, but make sure you come back with all your organs.
Now, for some other carefully curated news of the Jews, courtesy of The Forward, The Jewish Times, and other Jewishy sources. To wit:
- President Biden announced Friday that Saudi Arabia would soon allow direct flights from Israel – A small step toward normalizing relations between the two countries. The news came hours before Biden himself was to make that trip, as he visited an East Jerusalem hospital and Christian holy sites in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, where he met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. “Isn’t it time for this occupation to end?” Abbas asked pointedly after the meeting. He called on Biden to remove the Palestine Liberation Organization from a U.S. list of terrorist groups and reopen the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem and Palestinian diplomatic mission in Washington that were shuttered by President Trump. “The key to peace and security in our region begins with the recognition of the state of Palestine,” Abbas added. “The opportunity for the two-state solution along the 1967 borders may be available for today only.” But Biden, who had upset many Palestinian activists with his blunt embrace of Zionism as he arrived in Israel on Wednesday, said: “the ground is not ripe at this moment to restart negotiations.”
- Joe Biden shook hands in Israel despite planning not to. Then a pop star left him hanging. (JTA) — For the first day of Joe Biden’s visit to Israel, the buzz about handshakes was that, despite a pandemic-related plan, he was giving them at all. That changed on Thursday afternoon. That’s when Yuval Dayan, an Israeli pop star, left the U.S. president hanging after Biden extended his hand to her. Dayan and another singer named Ran Danker had just performed a rendition of the classic song “Lu Yehi,” or “Let it Be,” at a ceremony marking Biden’s receipt of Israel’s highest civilian honor. Afterwards, Biden and Israeli president Isaac Herzog approached the artists to thank them.Danker took Biden’s outstretched hand, but Dayan bowed instead, clasping her hands together and smiling. What Biden didn’t know was that Dayan has committed to refrain from touching members of the opposite sex. She is famous in Israel in part for becoming more religiously observant, embracing the principle of shomer negiah, a prohibition on opposite-sex touching that some Orthodox Jews believe is required, as well as not performing on Shabbat or Jewish holidays.
- 💻 Follow up to the Mapping Project Boston controversy – “The Mapping Project,” a website that drew wide outrage for its website labeling hundreds of Jewish nonprofits, companies, individuals and police departments as complicit in “the colonization of Palestine,” uses a web-hosting company in Iceland. The Anti-Defamation League asked Iceland’s foreign minister this week to take down the site. (AP)
- 🇨🇦 Anti-semitism in Canada, eh? During a trial of a Canadian man accused of promoting hatred against Jews, the judge admonished prosecutors for failing to show how Nazism led to the Holocaust. Jewish groups are now calling on Canada to train judges on antisemitism. “Every Canadian should be appalled,” said Sam Goldstein of B’nai Brith. (Globe and Mail)
- Biden and Lapid jointly pledge to deny Iran weapons, but they diverge on the details – The “Jerusalem Declaration” is the most concrete commitment to come out of Biden’s two-day visit to Israel. The document released on Thursday, the second day of Biden’s visit to Israel, is a 1,500-word statement titled “The Jerusalem Declaration on the US-Israel Strategic Partnership.” It states that the United States is committed “never to allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon” and is “prepared to use all elements of its national power to ensure that outcome.” But after the leaders’ meeting Thursday, Biden and Lapid gave a joint press conference in which Biden said that in working to prevent a nuclear Iran, “I continue to believe that diplomacy is the best way to achieve this outcome.” Lapid struck a different note, showing some of the daylight between Israel and the United States on the issue of what is widely understood to be the biggest threat in the region. “The Iranian regime should know that if they continue to deceive the world, they will pay a heavy price,” Lapid said. “Words will not stop them, Mr. President. Diplomacy will not stop them. The only thing that will stop Iran is knowing that if they continue to develop their nuclear program, the free world will use force.”
- 🇷🇺 The world is watching the case of Brittney Griner, the WNBA star being held in a Russian prison after authorities found hashish oil in her luggage. To better understand what Russian President Vladimir Putin may do, people are turning to Naama Issachar, an American-Israeli who spent 10 months in a Russian prison for having cannabis, and is now speaking out for the first time since her release in 2020. (NBC News)
- 50 years ago, a Jewish Hall of Famer testified on behalf of a Black player seeking free agency – Hardly anyone in professional baseball wanted to stand up for Curt Flood, a Black outfielder who sued MLB in the early 1970s over a contract clause that tied players to teams indefinitely. Hank Greenberg, known as the “Hebrew Hammer,” was one of the few to stand up for Flood, who lost the lawsuit but paved the way for free agency. “I do not feel that I am a piece of property to be bought and sold irrespective of my wishes,” Flood wrote. Read the story ➤
That’s enough for now. And hey, this B5 variant is spreading like a California wildfire, and has already sickened my 2 nieces Molly and Carrie for a few days. So, let’s continue to be careful out there! Masks on!