Volunteers Wanted to Help Voters Meet New Photo ID Mandate

While we await a final ruling on Pennsylvania’s Voter ID law, we must assume the worse and try to mitigate the damage by minimizing the number of voters disenfranchised by the law.

(JSPAN) The Pennsylvania Voter ID Coalition is continuing to canvass for residents who do not have photo identification that meets the new requirements to vote on election day. The Coalition is transporting those people to Department of Motor Vehicles license centers to apply for the necessary ID. You can volunteer to help by phone banking, joining the canvass, providing transportation, or greeting and assisting people at the license centers. – Ed.

Tom Periello Speaks to Activists

Former Congressman Tom Periello (D VA-5), President and CEO of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, spoke to a gathering of activists at Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia.

In conversation before the meeting, participants discussed natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania and its environmental issues.

Periello addressed the activists, “I know all of you are community leaders, and you have various outlets where you can be heard. we not only want to give Pennsylvania-specific (statistics) about this election, but also the methodology behind them.”

More after the jump.
Periello said the his background “was in grassroots organizing, and then started working on conflict resolution, peace negotiations in West Africa, Afghanistan and other countries, which naturally led to a run for Congress in 2008. I ran in a very conservative district in central and southern Virginia, and I had the crazy idea that we’d win more voters by actually being stronger among progressives rather than trying to be Republican-lite.”

After winning narrowly, Periello said, “I was proud to vote for health care twice, for the (economic) stimulus, DREAM Act, etc. In the terrible year for Democrats of 2010, we lost by only three points when we should have lost by seventeen.” Piriello’s career, he said, “is what has attracted me so much to the Center for American Progress. We believe fact should still matter, even though we know how manipulated information is today. By having stronger, bolder ideas as progressives, we actually convert more people, than by cutting a good idea in half.”

Warning against overconfidence and complacency because Obama is ahead of Romney in the polls,  Periello said,

As someone who lived through the 2010 election, in a Citizens United era, anything is possible. There’s a billion dollars on the conservative side, and it’s not just about them wanting Mitt Romney elected. They actually actively want to de-legitimize the concept of clean energy, they want to de-legitimize the idea of Medicare as a guaranteed benefit, there are deeper ideological fights  that are being fought here.  We’re here today, not just because we care about this election,  but we care about what happens the day after the election. We want to see a conversation over the next forty-five to fifty days that helps inform the debate about financial issues and energy.

Periello showed charts that summarized what he called

the core economic, kitchen-table arguments of this campaign. There are a lot of things you simply can’t quantify…when you talk about treating LGBT brothers and sisters as less than fully human, you can’t put a dollar figure on that. When you talk about 2.1 million women just in Pennsylvania alone who have guaranteed pre-preventative care under Obamacare, it’s hard to put a dollar figure on that. When you have 191 thousand kids in Pennsylvania with pre-existing conditions who cannot be discriminated against under laws that are already active, (and) who are able to stay on their family plans-there are deep issue as to who we are as a people, who we want to treat our neighbors, what it means to consider redefining rape and outlawing contraception, or at least saying that your boss has some right to decide your access to it.

Periello pointed out the Romney tax plan to raise taxes on lower income families by $2,000 a year, along with five trillion dollars in tax cuts aimed at high-income people. “He has been extremely specific about this,” said Periello.

Romney, added Periello, has also been specific in his spending plan, which includes defense, Social Security, Medicare, veterans benefits, education, transportation, student grants, among others. “Romney says he wants to cut overall spending,” said Periello, “then he says, ‘We’re going to keep Social Security and Medicare constant for ten years.’ (Romney) says he wants to increase defense spending by two trillion dollars a year,” which means “everything  else has to be cut by forty percent in order to reach that target.” Periello raised the question, “What if Romney is lying, what if he’s not fully telling the truth?”

Discussing how Pennsylvania would be affected by the Romney cuts, Periello said,

Over the next decade, that means $118 billion less in federal investment in the state, or about $12 billion a year over the next decade. Either that $12 billion has to be replaced in local and state spending, in which case you’re raising taxes again, or significant benefit cuts, on things like education, Pell Grants, veterans’ benefits, federal aviation, local airports shutting down, a lot of things that people depend on, in addition to Medicaid. You might say, ‘He’s not going to go after veterans,’ then everything else has to be cut by sixty percent.

There’s a reason he wants to be vague about this. Most of these are things voters actually like, and are glad we’re investing in, like public health and safety.

Republican Jewish Coalition Mobilizes in Philly, Boca & Cleveland

The Republican Jewish Coalition flew and bused volunteers to campaign yesterday Sunday, September 9 and today Monday, September 10 in three metropolitan areas:

  • Philadelphia and Montgomery County, Pennsylvania
  • South-Eastern Florida, and
  • Cleveland, Ohio.

Ron Kampeas reports that this is part of a $6,500,000 microtargeting campaign funded in part by gambling tycoon Sheldon Adelson (pictured right at the RJC “Friends of Israel” reception at the Republican National Convention).

Ohio (1.3% Jewish) and Florida (3.4% Jewish) are once again battleground states and are being hotly contested by the Romney and Obama campaigns. Pennsylvania (2.3% Jewish) has traditionally been a swing state, but lately it has been considered fairly safe for the Democrats, and accordingly Mitt Romney, Karl Rove and the Koch brothers’ Super-PACs “Restore Our Future”, “Crossroads GPS” and “Americans for Prosperity” all announced last week that they were pulling out of Pennsylvania and Michigan and concentrating their ad buys on more competitive states. We asked the RJC why they were skipping Nevada which is a very competitive state with a 2.8% Jewish population the most of any swing-state other than Florida, but Stu Sandler and Bill Wanger had no comment. (See comment posted below.)

The RJC invited us to observe their outreach effort in work in our area. Local members of the RJC were joined by supporters bused in from Bethesda, Maryland and the New York area. Some volunteers flew in from as far away as California.  In all about 400 Republicans were assembled at the Radisson Valley Forge Casino Resort.

During the breakfast, RJC leaders and volunteers were all eager to share the views with us. One deplored a “certain strain of the Jewish community that cares more about the Democratic party than about Israel.” I asked if she was referring to extreme elements of the grassroots or about any particular elected officials, and she cited Rep. Alysson Schwartz as an example saying

Allyson Schwartz will be a Democrat [sic] believer until the day she dies even if they start wearing brown shirts

(a reference to the color of the uniforms of the Strumabteilung which played a key role in Adolf Hitler’s rise to power). Other members of the crowd echoed Lynne’s contempt for the Democratic Congresswomen and cited DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, Former Rep. Robert Wexler, Pennsylvania State Senator Daylin Leach, and Montgomery County Commissioner Josh Shapiro as “traitor to their faith.”

I discussed the Democratic and Republican party platforms with Lynne Lechter, Republican Committeewoman in Lower Merion and former candidate for the Pennsylvania Assembly (shown right at the National Women’s Committee of the RJC at the Green Valley County Club in 2009). Asked about the Republican platform which echoes Rep. Todd Akin’s support for a blanket ban on abortions without any exception for rape or incest, Ms. Lechter said that to her “platforms are not relevent. People don’t always agree with everything in the platform.” However, she felt that the original Democratic platform “underscored the hatred of Democrats for religion and Israel.”

More after the jump.

The volunteers were assembled into teams some for phone banking, literature drops and strategic sign waving.

  • Vans brought the RJC volunteers to various neighborhoods. Media from the Philadelphia Jewish Voice, the Jewish Exponent, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency and the New Jersey Jewish News were taken to an affluent Jewish neighborhood in Gladwynne where we watched as a pair of volunteers left campaign brochures at the front door of each targeted home. They were instructed not to knock  or interact with voters, but simply to leave their literature and move on. The RJC began canvassing neighborhoods for the first time during the 2008 election. However, Stu Sandler said this outreach effort is larger and better targeted than their 2008 canvassing.
  • Other volunteers were assigned to “strategic sign waving.” For example, a pair of RJC volunteers was stationed outside the Obama for America office at 1 E. Lancaster Avenue in Ardmore, PA waving signs reading “Oy vay, Obama.” (See photo below of a billboard in Southern Florida with a similar message.) OFA Field Director Jediah Grobstein asked them to not block the entrance, but other than that there was little interaction observed between the Democratic and Republican supporters.
  • A conference room at the Radisson was devoted to phone banking. The RJC used the same predictive dialing technology which Organizing for America used during the New York special elections of 2009. Volunteer phone bankers could stay on the phone as a computer connected them with one voter after another.

After the day of canvassing, the volunteers were treated to a private discussion with Congressmen Pat Meehan (R-PA7) and Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA8), and former Republican State Senator Bruce Mark, followed by Sunday Night Football as the Denver Broncos defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-19.

Photo of Republican Jewish Coalition billboard in South Florida

Stu Bykofsky Candidates’ Comedy Night, 2012

The 22nd  annual Stu Bykofsky Candidates’ Comedy Night, a benefit for Variety, the children’s charity, was held this evening at Finnegan’s Wake.   Since this is primarily a political blog I didn’t take notes on the speakers who aren’t running for office.  As always, this is not intended to be an exact transcript, just rough notes I took at the event.  It would be impossible to capture every joke, especially the longer, more involved story jokes, but I made an effort to provide some idea of each candidate’s routine.  

Photo: Steven M. Falk, Philly.com

Details after the jump.

Text implies a direct joke, notes in brackets are condensations or gists.  Actions or extraneous activities are in italics, as are candidates’ names.  Read your local newspapers for more exact accounts of the event.


Photo: Bonnie Squires

Tom Smith (R), candidate for Senate
Running against incumbent Sen. Bob Casey (D).

[Tom Smith was brave enough to go first as a stand-up comedian.  He had a clever slide show which featured a head-shot of Smith added to all the slides of stock or iconic photos.]

I am new to politics and most people in Philadelphia aren’t familiar with me.  My father died when I was 20 and I had to look after the family so I couldn’t go to college but I sent my daughters.  [shows a slide of what he would have looked like if he had gone – his face superimposed on someone wearing a college tshirt holding a beer mug].  

My wife is with me, as you can see I let her get a new dress for the event [American Gothic painting with Mr. and Mrs. Smith’s photos in it].  

I worked in a coal mine [Smith’s face on the front of Thomas the Tank Engine, pulling a load of coal].  

I had big dreams [his face added to a picture of the Beverly Hillbillies].  My wife and I adopted four children so a family could stay together.  

People say I am a Tea Party candidate but there are a lot of things about me you don’t know [his face added to an Occupy Pittsburgh group photo].


Photo: Bonnie Squires

Rep. Bob Brady (D), PA 1st Congressional District

[Congressman Bob Brady told a couple of jokes which we can’t repeat here. He made Stu Bykofsky the butt (pardon the pun) of one a “pee and poop joke.”  Another jokee was about an attorney going to a brothel.]

Incumbents do comedy every day, make fools of ourselves every day.  This is for the kids.


Photo: Bonnie Squires

Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA)

[Senator Bob Casey appeared in shirt-sleeves!  He made fun of himself for being dull, quoting verbatim a front page New York Times article which talked about Casey’s galloping eyebrows as the way in which he registers excitement.]

Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D), PA 13th Congressional District, sent a surrogate, Neil Deegan.

Top reasons Allyson can’t be here tonight:

  • Still at PennDOT waiting for her voter id card
  • Getting new copy of the Congressional ladies’ room key made for Kathy Boockvar
  • Prepping Mayfair office to hand over to Bob Brady
  • Painting bike lane in front of Stu’s house
  • Getting mani pedi with Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Nancy Pelosi
  • Measuring drapes for Corbett’s office
  • Looking at Pat Toomey’s office
  • Needed a haircut for the DNC.

Photo: Bonnie Squires

Kathleen Kane (D), candidate for Pennsylvania Attorney-General
Running against David Freed (R)

[jokes about her Irish heritage and her hometown of Scranton]
[joke about thinking Finnegan’s Wake was an actual funeral wake]
[joke about doctors]

In Scranton the obituaries are the Irish social pages.  People clip them out and put then on the refrigerator.   They often have headlines, like “101 Year Old Woman Dies Unexpectedly.”

I took my son to an Eagles game.  We saw empty seats up front and moved up to them.  They were next to an older man.  He told us he and his wife had season tickets for years but she died a few days ago.  I asked if a family member didn’t want to come with him.  “Oh, no,” he said, “they’re at the funeral.”


Photo: Bonnie Squires

George Badey, Democratic candidate for 7th Congressional District

[George Badey, who was raised in South Philadelphia and is an avowed Mummer, had a very funny routine.  Badey is the Democrat running against Republican incumbent  Congressman Pat Meehan.]

[told “the neighborhood I grew up in was so tough” jokes – it is now in Brady’s district]

I went to high school in South Philly.  Pat Meehan went to the Chestnut Academy.

Chris Christie is in the hospital.  He has that flesh eating bacteria.  He only has 13 years to live.

Fidel Castro’s successor will be his idiot son, Fidel W. Castro.

Bill Clinton and the Pope died but there was a mix up and Clinton went up and the Pope went down.  When the mix up was fixed and the Pope was going up and Clinton down they passed and the Pope told Clinton he was looking forward to meeting the Blessed Virgin.  Clinton said “You just missed her.”


Photo: Bonnie Squires

David Freed (R), candidate for Pennsylvania Attorney-General
Running against Kathleen Kane (D).

Thanks to Kathleen Kane for picking up the tab.
I went to college with Cecily Tynan.
Fan of Philly sports teams [joke about the 1996 Phillies being bad team].

People say I am too close to Gov. Corbett – he wrote my jokes.  [fakes a phone call from Corbett].  

Hello, Governor?  
Yes, Risa Vetri Ferman’s here — she’s sitting right next to me.  
No, she still won’t run for Attorney General.

[joke about Ed Rendell telling people the statue of Billy Penn is of him]

[calls Daily News columnist John Baer a gossip columnist]

[Photo: Dave Freed seated with Montgomery County D.A. Risa Furman.]


Photo: Bonnie Squires

Kathy Boockvar (D), candidate for PA 8th Congressional District
Running against incumbent Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R).

I want to show that I can be funny on purpose and not just by accident.

I wanted to find a job more popular than being in Congress but the TSA didn’t have any opening and Elliott Spitzer already has a co-host.  

Things more popular than Congress right now:

  • Lawyers
  • Chick Fil A’s new branch at the Sea of
  • Gaililee
  • Paris Hilton
  • Porn
  • The IRS
  • Polygamy
  • The idea of being abducted by aliens
  • The oil industry
  • Bank of America
  • BP Oil during the Gulf oil spill

Photo: Bonnie Squires

John Featherman (R), candidate for PA 1st Congressional District
Running against incumbent Rep. Bob Brady (D).

[John Featherman was very funny with jokes about being Jewish and his “mixed marriage” to an Asian woman].  

Two Chinese people had a white baby but everyone knows two Wongs don’t make a white.

A union friend wanted to find a whorehouse where the prostitutes got to keep more of the money than the madam.  They finally found one and the union friend asked for a pretty young blonde but the proprietor said he had to take 62 year old Ethel, because of seniority rules.

Comedian Joe Conklin

Intermission with comedian Joe Conklin who told some good jokes and did impressions of political figures.  He also gave a shout out to the girls from Club Risque and said they were the only ones there with bigger [breasts] than Bob Brady.


Photo: Bonnie Squires

Rep. Pat Meehan (R), PA 7th Congressional District

[Congressman Pat Meehan, the Republican incumbent being challenged by Badey, also had a very funny routine.]

Stu thought the Variety Club was a dating service.

My opponent George Badey is a mummer.  He wants to go to Washington, wear satin pants, a feather boa and lipstick.  J. Edgar Hoover already did that.

Anthony Wiener got in trouble for sexting.  He was trying to decide whether or not to resign.  He was in, he was out, he was in, he was out, now he’s holding his own.  Bill Clinton oversaw Wiener’s wedding.  
When the scandal broke he called Clinton to apologize — for what, copyright infringement?

Three political figures were driving through Kansas and ended up in Oz.  [missed the name, possibly George W. Bush?] went looking for a heart, Joe Biden for a brain, and Bill Clinton said “Where’s Dorothy?”

There is an auction for a restaurant gift card which Emerald Capital bids more than the card is worth, then ups that bid when Stu includes a gift basket.


Photo: Bonnie Squires

Dr. Manan Trivedi (PA), candidate in PA 6th Congressional District
Running against incumbent Rep. Jim Gerlach (R).

When I ran in 2010 I spoke at this event and told a lot of jokes about being an Indian-American.  I won’t do that this year.  [fakes a telephone call and answers in stereotypic Indian accent] “Dell Technical Support.  This is … Mike …. In …. Kansas City.”  

My wife is from a very traditional family.  When they heard I wouldn’t be a full-time doctor while I am running for office they asked for three chickens back.

Jim Gerlach and Paul Ryan work out together — they practice their Atlas Shrugged poses.

[spelling bee joke]

Unlike Todd Akin, I know when my time is up.

Special guest, comedian Steve Young tells jokes

Congressman Jim Gerlach, Republican, 6th Congressional District, sent surrogate Kori Walter, district director.

Mitt Romney bet me $10,000 that I wouldn’t do this.

[He told several jokes that fell flat and asked if the audience was drinking enough.  As he left the stage Stu told him you never blame the audience if your jokes don’t get a laugh, always use self-deprecating humor.]

Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick, Republican, 8th Congressional District

[Fitzpatrick was taking two of his daughters to college this weekend and so wasn’t sure he would be able to attend; a surrogate, Andre [did not catch last name], was there just in case, but Fitzpatrick told his own jokes]

One night in Washington a robber held me up and said “give me all your money.”  I told him I was a Congressman and he said  “In that case give me all my money.”

Is Mitt Romney here tonight?  Coming in I thought I saw a car with a dog carrier on top.”

[discusses his Irish heritage, family from county next to Limerick.  Says Limerick known for a particular kind of poem.  Tells three.  One about Paul Ryan has a line “grandma just must go.”  One about Romney being robotic but “I saw him cry when he sold his 3rd yacht.”  The last one is about Obama and says he will be a judge on American Idol next year.]

Jim Foster, Independent candidate in 2nd Congressional District
Running against incumbent Rep. Chaka Fattah (D) and Robert Allen Mansfield, Jr. (R).

[Mostly talks about himself, jokes about Chaka Fattah, and says West Mt. Airy is Stepford on the Wissahickon]

Robert Mansfield, Republican candidate for 2nd Congressional District, sends surrogate Ned Green.
Running against incumbent Rep. Chaka Fattah (D) and Jim Foster.

[says he met Mansfield in the 1990’s on another political campaign, Mansfield was homeless then].  Says Mansfield isn’t there because he has a lot of injuries from being in Iraq and is seeing a brain specialist today.

Personal notes:
Smith, Casey, Schwartz/Deegan, Kane, Trivedi, and Boockvar did well.   I was surprised by the Republican candidates telling Romney/Paul jokes.  That seems unusual.

There were a lot of jokes/comments at Congressman Chaka Fattah’s expense.  That is because two years ago he was a presenter and gave an awful, mean-spirited rant.  He wasn’t there tonight.  This would have been an opportunity for him to do something self-deprecating and make a comeback but he didn’t.  (Hint:  There’s always the Star Trek, evil twin/goatee trick that Community has picked up on.)

It was nice to see two women on the stage.  Maybe one of these years Congresswoman Schwartz will join us in person?  Kathleen Kane’s routine had a homespun, Lake Woebegone feel to it.  Boockvar was a little edgier.

The girls from Club Risque paraded from one side of the room to the other about three times, which is the standard from the other years I’ve attended, but this year they were wearing clunky shoes and the sound was disruptive.  

Cross-posted from Above Average Jane. Photo Credit: Bonnie Squires.

Food Series with Chefs of Citron & Rose and Rabbi Meir Soloveichik!

In anticipation of the new restaurant, please join us for an exciting Food Series featuring the engaging, creative and funny wisdom of Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik and the culinary talent and skill of the chefs of Citron and Rose, Michael Solomonov and Yehuda Sichel.

First part of the series for Rosh Hashanah follows the jump.

Honey: How to Truly Bee Jewish
Honey has been associated with Jewish celebrations for over one thousand years.  What is it about the miraculous beehive that is so significant? And how can understanding honey’s symbolism guarantee that our new year will be sweeter?

  • When: Sunday, September 9, 2012 at 7:30 pm
  • Where: Chabad of the Main Line, 625 Montgomery Ave, Merion Station, PA 19066. Future installments will take place at the new Citron and Rose!
  • Cost: Suggested $18 donation will support local Jewish Day Schools.
  • RSVP: Space is limited, so you must reserve a spot. Please RSVP to [email protected] by Friday, September 7, 2012
  • Who:
    • Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik is the Director of the Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought at Yeshiva University and Associate Rabbi at Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun in Manhattan.
    • Michael Solomonov is the executive chef and co-owner of Zahav, and the executive chef at Citron and Rose.
    • Yehuda Sichel is a sous chef at Zahav and chef de cuisine at Citron and Rose.

 

Tour de Shuls: Biking around the Jewish Community

Local Congregations Featured Tour Stops in the First Annual Tour de Shuls PA/NJ Bike Ride to Benefit Camp Ramah

— by Leonard Abrams and Bruce Tomar

Middle Atlantic Region of Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs proudly presents the inaugural Tour de Shuls a bike ride to benefit Camp Ramah on Sunday morning, September 23, 2012. Cyclists will enjoy a choice of a 45 mile, 20 mile or family friendly 3 mile ride. All rides begin and end at Temple Sinai in Dresher, PA. The ride will feature tour stops at
Beth Sholom in Elkins Park, PA and Tiferet Bet Israel in Blue Bell, PA. The cost to ride is $36 ($54 after 9/9). Check-in begins at 7:00 AM.

Every dollar raised from rider fees, contributions and sponsorships will be donated directly to Camp Ramah. This will be a great day for the Shuls of the Middle Atlantic Region, the Ramah movement and the Jewish community at large. All participants will be treated to a catered lunch by Temple Sinai Men’s Club’s acclaimed “Men in the Kitchen.”

A similar event is planned for September 2 in Indianapolis to benefit Hillels on eight university campuses across Indiana. On June 24, rides were held in Massachusetts and Connecticut rides to support the Tikvah special needs program at Camp Ramah New England.
Register today to ride, donate, sponsor a rider, sponsor the event and volunteer at www.tourdeshulspanj.org For further information contact event co-chairs Leonard Abrams at [email protected] or 215-498-2566 or Bruce Tomar [email protected] or 856-429-9042.

Planned Parenthood Holds Powerful Rally in West Chester, PA

Over 100 Supporters of Women’s Health Say “We Are Watching, and We Vote!”

— by Audrey Ann Ross and Sari Stevens

Planned Parenthood held a rally today in West Chester, Pennsylvania, as part of the Women are Watching bus tour, which is crisscrossing the country to educate voters about what’s at stake for women’s health in November and mobilize them to get out the vote.

Gathering at the Historic Chester County Courthouse, more than 100 voters sent a clear message to candidates and politicians like Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, and Dan Truitt, who oppose policies that protect women’s health — women are watching and they vote.  This year, women will decide the outcome of elections across Pennsylvania and the country, and are watching very closely to ensure that they elect candidates who will protect access to women’s health care.

More after the jump.


1st and 3rd photo: courtesy of John Morgan, 2nd photo courtesy of Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

Holocaust, Holocaust, Holocaust

— Rabbi Avi Shafran

When Palestinian Authority presidential adviser Ziad Al-Bandak paid his respects recently at the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum called the Palestinian’s visit there “a marketing of a false Zionist alleged tragedy.”

A newly appointed Romanian government official, Dan Sova, averred earlier this year that “No Jew suffered on Romanian territory” during World War II. (Tens of thousands of Romanian Jews were killed on Romanian territory, and hundreds of thousands others deported to their deaths. The historian Raul Hilberg concluded that “no country, besides Germany, was involved in massacres of Jews on such a scale.”)

We tend to get exercised by Holocaust denial, and for good reason. The refusal to accept the facts that part of the ostensibly civilized world went on a genocidal murder spree over the years 1938-1945 and that most of the rest of the world didn’t much care implies a certain regret that the genocide failed.

In the end, though, deniers of that historical truth are-at least outside the Arab world-generally marginalized, recognized as either mentally deficient or depraved.

More after the jump.
But then there are those, even among our fellow Jews, who are, if not Holocaust deniers, then Holocaust deriders. Like a writer for Tablet, an online magazine, who recently wrote (Warning: deeply offensive quote ahead) that

Each time we clapped for the old Hungarian lady who spoke about Dachau, each time Elie Wiesel threw another anonymous anecdote of betrayal onto a page, I eyed it askance, thinking What did you do that you’re not talking about? I had the gut instinct that these were villains masquerading as victims who, solely by virtue of surviving (very likely by any means necessary), felt that they had earned the right to be heroes, their basic, animal self-interest dressed up with glorified phrases like ‘triumph of the human spirit’.

And more (if the reader has the stomach for it):

I wondered if anyone had alerted Hitler that in the event that the final solution didn’t pan out, only the handful of Jews who actually fulfilled the stereotype of the Judenscheisse (because every group has a few) would remain to carry on the Jewish race-conniving, indestructible, taking and taking.

And, finally, there’s a more subtle challenge to the memory of the six million, though in a way more disturbing for its subtlety. Call it Holocaust fatigue.

Like some recent blogging by a reporter for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, the premier American Jewish news service. Reporter blogs allow journalists to let their hair down a bit and offer reports that are more informal and personal than the writers’ official, supposedly objective products. The blog entries are thus windows on their writers’ minds.

This particular writer, who produced a short, straightforward report on the recent Daf Yomi Siyum HaShas, used his blog platform to present his followers a “real time” series of observations from MetLife Stadium on August 1. Meant to be droll and funny, they came across, at least to some readers, as more smarmy than savvy.

One entry reads: “8:02: First mention of the Holocaust (‘Auschwitz,’ ‘Nazis,’ ‘ghetto,’ ‘gas chambers’).”

A second one reads: “8:19: Another mention of the 6 million.”

And a third: “8:20: Hitler mention: On this day in 1936, the Olympic Games began at a stadium of similar size in Berlin…”

The writer doesn’t spell out his precise feelings about the references, but in the context of the “sassy” tone of the blog, it’s pretty clear that he found them somewhat… tiresome.

The Holocaust has, sadly, been misappropriated in the service of various purposes. But if ever there were a proper and fitting place for invoking the designs of the would-be destroyers of Klal Yisrael, indeed, of Judaism, then a mammoth Jewish celebration of Torah is it. “Yehei Shmei Rabba” declared by 90,000 Jewish voices in unison was thunderous testimony to the fact that our enemies, again, have failed and that both our people and our Torah have emerged from unspeakable national tragedy faithful and strong.

I don’t mean, of course, to in any way compare Holocaust fatigue to sewage like Holocaust denial and Holocaust derision. The latter are evils, the former an unfortunate problem.

But it’s a problem, a deeply discomforting one, all the same.

© 2012 AMI MAGAZINE

Israel Trip Showed Romney’s Not Ready

— by David A. Harris

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s trip overseas was designed to show that he is ready to be our nation’s commander in chief. It was supposed to show that he has the capability to steward key alliances and honorably represent our citizens.

By those measures, it was a complete failure.

More after the jump.
In addition to Romney insulting one of our closest allies by questioning British preparedness for the London Olympics, he boasted of the meeting he held with Britain’s MI6 intelligence agency, even though one is not supposed to speak publicly of such meetings. Shouldn’t someone aspiring to be the Commander in Chief know when to keep his lips sealed – regardless of whether it involves intelligence or just being a gracious visitor?

But what was most extraordinary about Romney’s international visit was how irresponsible and reckless he was while discussing one of the most sensitive diplomatic issues of our time: the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

At first, Romney’s Israel excursion seemed harmless enough, mostly scheduled with photo-ops and events with high-dollar donors. In fact, Romney was almost never available to the travelling press and gave few public remarks. But what is truly remarkable though is just how damaging those few remarks were.

Romney displayed how woefully unequipped he is to be our Commander in Chief and seemed to not understand the diplomatic sensitivities and the potential costs to our national interests as he casually took a stance that was contrary to decades of U.S. Middle East policy, including under Democratic and Republican administrations.

By declaring that a Romney administration would ignore a precedent set by Republican leaders such as President George W. Bush and President Ronald Reagan, he introduced uncertainty into an already volatile region and may have pushed back the peace process before he had a chance to set foot in the Oval Office. And this is above and beyond the fact that he broke his promise which he made before he embarked on his international tour to not criticize President Obama on foreign soil.

And Romney did not stop there; he insulted Israelis and Palestinians alike, by saying that when it comes to the economic success – or failures – of those two peoples, “culture makes all the difference.” Not the free market, not international trade relationships, not education levels, not government investment, not geopolitical realities, and not ingenuity – economic wellbeing is a result of “culture.” These remarks were harshly condemned by Palestinians leadership and one Tel Aviv professor even said, “You can say it’s anti-Semitic. ‘Jews and money.'”

What’s most notable about Romney’s trip is that regardless of what happened abroad, he had already caused harm before leaving theUnited States. His reckless rhetoric about Russia, his bluster without details regarding Iran, and his pledge to “do the opposite” of one of the most pro-Israel presidents in history have all raised serious concerns among many in the Jewish community.

During the campaign season these missteps may be labeled as gaffes, but such leeway won’t be available to the President of the United States. The occupant of the most powerful seat in the world must pay attention to every word and action that he or she takes. A seemingly small misstep or cultural faux pas could damage key strategic alliances, seriously undermining America’s ability to pursue its national interest.

By showing that he was unable to visit three allies without serious diplomatic mistakes, Romney not only revealed how unsuited he is to be Commander in Chief, but his overseas performance would have disqualified him from being a first-year diplomat. And that is to say nothing of the many Republicans cringing over his foreign policy weaknesses.

President Obama has a proven record of strengthening America abroad and has not hesitated to use swift and powerful force when necessary. Our President has demonstrated that he understands when to be the ultimate diplomat and when to act unilaterally to protect our national interests throughout the world.

Romney’s international misadventures clarified in the minds of many Americans and American Jews who in this race is qualified to be Commander in Chief – and unfortunately for Romney, he displayed that it’s not him.

Originally published in The Times of Israel.