Shabbat shalom! Happy new year everyone! And welcome back Nathan who is returning home from a Birthright trip to Israel!
Tip of the kippah this morning to Kevin McCarthy who survived an insufferable 14 votes before finally figuring out a way to convince the MAGA nuts he is serious about dismantling liberal democracy. This is no exaggeration, as the MAGA nuts have clearly stated their intentions to do so and will use the national debt limit to get the concessions they are seeking. They believe that if we stop funding the government, the programs they hate, such as social security, the EPA, and others that were actually initiated by Republicans, will cease to exist. How ironic that in this stirring demonstration of democracy in action, we actually are witnessing the potential dismantling of said democracy by the same group of extremists who tried to take the government hostage two years ago to the day. This is a loathsome crew, led by the likes of Matt “punch my face please” Goetz, Lauren “super bitch” Boebert, and Marjorie Taylor “laser brain” Greene and other whack jobs who wouldn’t get elected to garbage collector in any state with an average IQ above that of a mongoloid. Sorry mongoloids and garbage collectors.
If there is any goodness in this democratic debacle, it was the eminence of, and the speech by, minority leader Hakeem Jeffries, who appears to have hired Lin-Manuel Miranda as his speech writer, going full alphabet with a clever A to Z soliloquy which included:
House Democrats will always put American values over autocracy, benevolence over bigotry, the Constitution over the cult, democracy over demagogues, economic opportunity over extremism, freedom over fascism, governing over gaslighting, hopefulness over hatred, inclusion over isolation, justice over judicial overreach, knowledge over kangaroo courts, liberty over limitation, maturity over Mar-a-Lago, normalcy over negativity, opportunity over obstruction, people over politics, quality of life issues over QAnon, reason over racism, substance over slander, triumph over tyranny, understanding over ugliness, voting rights over voter suppression, working families over the well-connected, xenial over xenophobia, “Yes we can” over “You can do it,” and zealous representation over zero-sum confrontation.
Sadly, the dog catching the car is an appropriate metaphor for what’s happening here in the USA as well as in Israel, where the parallels between the crazies in Nut-and-yahoos coalition and the MAGA nut jobs couldn’t be more scary. While it may be far too early to tell what will happen to Israel under its new stewardship, Itamar Ben-Gvir’s audacious visit this week to the Temple Mount, the site holy to both Muslims and Jews and flashpoint of so much tension and violence, seems to be a haunting harbinger. And we should all be deeply worried about the independence of Israel’s judiciary, about the new government’s threats to LGBTQ people and plans to redefine who is considered Jewish under Israeli law.
So, happy new year everyone! If you thought 2022 was a weird year, you ain’t seen nothing yet! This shit is going to get very real and luckily we all have a seat in the front row!
Now, what about some other news for the Jews this week? My email was flooded once again with your requests for more careful curations of news from the likes of The Forward, The Times of Israel, JTA, Kveller, Jewish Boston, and other fine sources of news for Jews! So, here you go:
- New Israel government slashes taxes on plastics – TEL AVIV (JTA) — Devora Zien’s tiny apartment in Bnei Brak runs like a factory, but, she admits, not a very smooth one. With 12 mouths to feed three times a day, single-use plasticware is a basic necessity, she says. So when Israel’s then-Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman increased taxes on disposables in 2021, Zien said she was “in total shock.” This week, Bezalel Smotrich, in his first move as finance minister, signed orders repealing the tax hikes on disposables and sugary drinks. Liberman’s tax on disposable dinnerware, as well as another set of taxes he imposed as finance minister on sugar-filled soft drinks, were viewed by many ultra-Orthodox Israelis as unfairly targeting their lifestyle and cynically using health and environmental considerations to single out their community.
- George Santos to star in “Fibber on the Roof” and other popular memes. In the “you can’t make this shit up” category, these memes have lit up social media:
- Pope Benedict said he believed in Jewish and Christian co-existence — but it took quite a while: Benedict, whose historic funeral unfolded last week in Vatican City, joined the Hitler Youth at 14 and when he became pontiff, lionized Pope Pius XII despite the latter’s inaction during the Holocaust. Benedict also reinstated a prayer that contained antisemitic references, though eventually removed the offending parts. His views on Judaism evolved and, in a 2011 book, he wrote that Judaism and Christianity should be seen as complementary faiths and energy should not be expended trying to convert Jews. Read the story ➤
- 😲 A Florida golf course was vandalized with racist and antisemitic messages, including a swastika and Star of David with a line through it …. Separately, a family in Stoneham, Massachusetts, found on their front lawn five swastikas made out of purple construction paper. “The anxiety just reached over me,” said the mom. (CBS 12, Washington Post)
- The hottest Jewish trends for 2023 (and the 2022 fads we won’t miss)The Forward’s Irene Katz Connelly and Mira Fox gazed through their crystal matzo balls, and what did they find?Partying at delis: You might think pastrami on rye, smothered in Russian dressing, seems like a symbol of a bygone era, your zayde’s favorite order that’s passé in a gluten-free vegan world. But you’d be wrong — the deli is so hot right now. Not just the food, also the aesthetic. Fashion designer Batsheva Hay had her New York Fashion Week show at Ben’s Kosher Deli, Zabar’s sells high-end sweaters and Katz’s hosted a rave.Putting the ‘stud’ in Bible study: Apps like JDate and The Lox Club cater to Jews looking for love, but they’ve become so saturated that they sometimes don’t feel very Jewish anymore. So ditch the apps, our duo recommends, and try meeting your beshert the old fashioned way: at synagogue. Read the rest of Irene & Mira’s Tired/Wired take ➤
- Thank you Elon Musk! Here are the prominent antisemites who have been reinstated on Twitter (that we know of) – A prominent antisemitic conspiracy theorist, who believes a race of lizard people secretly holds positions of power across the globe, is once again on Twitter. The account of David Icke, which has over 335,000 followers, is active for the first time since 2020. The change in status was discovered by Travis Brown, who runs a site dedicated to tracking the status of once-banned accounts. Icke joins an ignominious group of people who have expressed antisemitic beliefs and been banned from the social media site, only to see their accounts reinstated since the company was bought by Elon Musk in October. Musk has called himself a free speech absolutist, but has also told investors he would not allow Twitter to become a “hellscape.”
- How long before new TikTokers see Nazi content? 75 minutes, according to a Jan. 6 committee test – WASHINGTON (JTA) — The committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol wanted to test how fast it took social media to get to radical content. The answer, when it came to TikTok and Nazis, was just over an hour. It took TikTok 75 minutes to deliver Nazi content to a new user who did not seek it, the committee found, according to a report Thursday in Rolling Stone. The magazine is one of a number of publications reviewing the committee’s final release of documents as the U.S. House of Representatives transitions from Democratic to Republican control. Committee staffers were testing a theory that social media giants were reluctant to police right-wing extremist content in part because of pushback from then-President Donald Trump and his supporters who argue that such controls inhibit conservative speech.
That’s all folks, and hey, let’s not forget to be careful out there.