Friday, February 26, 2010

Moral bottom for Presbyterian Church

Presbyterians Usher in the Jewish Holiday of PurimDivestment and the War Against the Jews, Part 2010.

The Presbyterian Church in the United States (PCUSA) is about to release a report which denounces Israel as a “racist” nation which has absolutely no historical, covenantal, or theological right to the Holy Land. The report calls for the United States to withhold financial and military aid to Israel and for boycotts and sanctions against Israel. That’s not all. The report also endorses a Palestinian “right of return” and “apologizes to Palestinians for even conceding that Israel has a right to exist.” According to the press release, it also states that Israel’s history begins only with the Holocaust and that Israel is “a nation mistakenly created by Western powers at the expense of the Palestinian people to solve the ‘Jewish problem’.”

In addition, PCUSA has also resolved to divest in companies that supply military equipment to the American Army, e.g. Boeing, Lockheed-Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, etc.

In 2004, this Church became the first mainline Protestant denomination in America to “approve a policy of divestment from Israel.” This was rescinded, but in 2008 the Church “created a committee dominated by seven activists holding strong anti-Israel beliefs. The lone member sympathetic to Israel, quit in protest when he saw their radical agenda.”

The Simon Wiesenthal Center notes that 46 members of the US Congress and Senate are Presbyterians and fears potentially “significant repercussions in the political domain” as well as a negative “impact on interfaith relations.” They urge us all to protest directly to the top leadership of the PCUSA “to stop this dangerous campaign which denies the legitimacy and security of Israel,” and to “reach out to your Presbyterian friends.”

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Palin endorses bombing Iran

Daniel pipes
Sarah Palin entered the fray yesterday. In a high-profile interview yesterday with Chris Wallace, she spontaneously brought up the topic of Obama's winning a second term by bombing Iran:

WALLACE: How hard do you think President Obama will be to defeat in 2012?

PALIN: It depends on a few things. Say he played—and I got this from Buchanan, reading one of his columns the other day - say he played the war card. Say he decided to declare war on Iran or decided really [to] come out and do whatever he could to support Israel, which I would like him to do, but - that changes the dynamics in what we can assume is going to happen between now and three years. Because I think if the election were today I do not think Obama would be re-elected. But three years from now, things could change if—on the national security front …

WALLACE: But you're not suggesting that he would cynically play the war card?

PALIN: I'm not suggesting that. I'm saying if he did, things would dramatically change. If he decided to toughen up and do all that he can to secure our nation and our allies, I think people would, perhaps, shift their thinking a little bit and decide, "Well, maybe he's tougher than we think he's—than he is today," and there wouldn't be as much passion to make sure that he doesn't serve another four years.

Comments: (1) Buchanan disapproves of Obama taking out the Iranian nuclear infrastructure, but Palin and I "would like him to do" that, thereby removing the world's No. 1 security threat.

(2) After vilification from the Left and tepid reactions on the Right, it's nice to have a major political figure endorse my idea.

(3) I've always liked Palin and been mystified by the fervid hostility she engenders. Perhaps that results from her readiness, as Jeff Bergner puts it, to challenge "The Narrative" formulated by the Democratic Party. True to form, she is, so far, the only politician willing to touch the hot potato of the political implications of bombing Iran.

Pipes to Obama Bomb Iran

How to Save the Obama Presidency: Bomb Iran

by Daniel Pipes
National Review Online
February 2, 2010

I do not customarily offer advice to a president whose election I opposed, whose goals I fear, and whose policies I work against. But here is an idea for Barack Obama to salvage his tottering administration by taking a step that protects the United States and its allies.

If Obama's personality, identity, and celebrity captivated a majority of the American electorate in 2008, those qualities proved ruefully deficient in 2009 for governing. He failed to deliver on employment and health care, he failed in foreign policy forays small (e.g., landing the 2016 Olympics) and large (relations with China and Japan). His counterterrorism record barely passes the laugh test.

This poor performance has caused an unprecedented collapse in the polls and the loss of three major by-elections, culminating two weeks ago in an astonishing senatorial defeat in Massachusetts. Obama's attempts to "reset" his presidency will likely fail if he focuses on economics, where he is just one of many players.

He needs a dramatic gesture to change the public perception of him as a lightweight, bumbling ideologue, preferably in an arena where the stakes are high, where he can take charge, and where he can trump expectations.

Barak Obama's job approval problem.

Such an opportunity does exist: Obama can give orders for the U.S. military to destroy the Iranian nuclear weapon capacity.

Circumstances are propitious. First, U.S. intelligence agencies have reversed their preposterous 2007 National Intelligence Estimate, the one that claimed with "high confidence" that Tehran had "halted its nuclear weapons program," No one (other than the Iranian rulers and their agents) denies that the regime is rushing headlong to build a large nuclear arsenal.

Second, if the apocalyptic-minded leaders in Tehran get the Bomb, they render the Middle East a yet more volatile and dangerous. They might deploy these weapons in the region, leading to massive death and destruction. Eventually, they could launch an electro-magnetic pulse attack on the United States, utterly devastating the country. By eliminating the Iranian nuclear threat, Obama protects the homeland and sends a message to American's friends and enemies.

Third, polling shows longstanding American backing for an attack on the Iranian nuclear infrastructure.


Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg, January 2006: 57 percent of Americans favor military intervention if Tehran pursues a program that could enable it to build nuclear arms.

Zogby International, October 2007: 52 percent of likely voters support a U.S. military strike to prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon; 29 percent oppose such a step.

McLaughlin & Associates, May 2009: asked whether they would support "Using the [U.S.] military to attack and destroy the facilities in Iran which are necessary to produce a nuclear weapon," 58 percent of 600 likely voters supported the use of force and 30 percent opposed it.

Fox News, September 2009: asked "Do you support or oppose the United States taking military action to keep Iran from getting nuclear weapons?" 61 percent of 900 registered voters supported military action and 28 opposed it.

Pew Research Center, October 2009: asked which is more important, "To prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, even if it means taking military action" or "To avoid a military conflict with Iran, even if it means they may develop nuclear weapons," Out of 1,500 respondents, 61 percent favored the first reply and 24 percent the second.

The nuclear facility at Qum on Sep. 26,2009 from 423 miles in space, provided by GeoEye.
Not only does a strong majority – 57, 52, 58, 61, and 61 percent – already favor using force but after a strike Americans will presumably rally around the flag, jumping that number much higher.

Fourth, were the U.S. strike limited to taking out the Iranian nuclear facilities, and not aspire to regime change, it would require few "boots on the ground" and entail relatively few casualties, making an attack politically more palatable.

Just as 9/11 caused voters to forget George W. Bush's meandering early months, a strike on Iranian facilities would dispatch Obama's feckless first year down the memory hole and transform the domestic political scene. It would sideline health care, prompt Republicans to work with Democrats, make netroots squeal, independents reconsider, and conservatives swoon.

But the chance to do good and do well is fleeting. As the Iranians improve their defenses and approach weaponization, the window of opportunity is closing. The time to act is now or, on Obama's watch, the world will soon become a much more dangerous place.

Mr. Pipes is director of the Middle East Forum and Taube distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University.

Video on Challah

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Monday, February 15, 2010

Purim in Chicago

2010 Purim 5770

Ezra-Habonim, the Niles Township Jewish Congregation

4500 Dempster Street, Skokie 60076 847-675-4141

Saturday, February 27, 2010

6:00 PM Spaghetti Dinner, 6:45 PM Megillah Reading

8:00 PM Purim Shpiel

Adults $12, Kids $6 (Includes Shpiel tickets)

Purim Shpiel 5770/2010

Ezra-Habonim, the Niles Township Jewish Congregation 4500 Dempster St Skokie 847-675-4141

Sat. Feb 27 8 PM after the Megillah reading

Dinner, megillah reading and Shpiel and dessert $12

The cast and Crew The King and Director Ken Dermer/Vashti Linnea McHugh Johansomn/Esther Layni Myers singingI Dreamed a Dream and Maria/Haman Las Vegas Phantom star Elena Batman /Mordechai Dr Sandy Finkel/Narrator Rabbi Ginsburg/Closing song- the Megillah a Thrilla Also starring Judge Shelley Sutker DermerRichard Steeley, Amy Claver, Miriam Davidson, Patti Burton, Mark Alexander, Ada Rabinowitz, Fred Ring, Ruth Siegel, Sylvia Callestine/Producer Judy Frank Costumes Francine Schulman, Musical Director Austin Cook PR Roz Gallai

Homentaschen & fun! … Delicious meatless meal! … Eat Homentaschen! … Bring your whole family & friends! … Come in costume! … Bring gifts for friends! … And Tzedakah for the poor!!!

Purim spaghetti seudah reservation form for February 27, 2010

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

(Reservation Deadline is Monday, February 22)

Name: ________________________________________________________________________________________________

___ # of adults @ $12 ea = $ ______ ___ # of Kids @ $6 ea = $ ______ Total $ __________

Sorry, NO walk-ins. Must have your reservation with payment!

_____ Check (payable to EHNTJC) enclosed _____ Credit card Visa/MasterCard (over $50)

Account # _______________________________________________ Exp. Date ___________________________________

Authorized Signature ___________________________________________________________________________________

Shpiel sponsors $100: ___________________________________________________________________________________


Sunday, February 28, 2010

10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

All are welcome!!! Prizes galore!!!

Purchase Lunch and Game Tickets at the door!!!

Thanks to the Men’s Club for donating the food! Thanks to Adele z’l and Edwin Helman for donating the Purim Megillah booklets.

To volunteer or sponsor a booth for $50, call (847) 675-4141 or e-mail Rabbi Ginsburg at

Ezra-Habonim, the Niles Township Jewish Congregation

4500 Dempster Street, Skokie 60076

Friday, February 12, 2010

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Isalamitization of Europe

Geert Wilders is a Dutch Member of Parliament.

*"America, the last man standing"*

'In a generation or two, the US will ask itself: who lost Europe ?'

[Here is the speech of Geert Wilders, Chairman, Party for Freedom, the
Netherlands , at the Four Seasons, New York , introducing an Alliance of
Patriots and announcing the Facing Jihad Conference in Jerusalem].

Dear friends,

Thank you very much for inviting me.

I come to America with a mission. All is not well in the old world. There
is a tremendous danger looming, and it is very difficult to be optimistic. We
might be in the final stages of the Islamization of Europe . This not only
is a clear and present danger to the future of Europe itself, it is a threat
to America and the sheer survival of the West. The United States as the
last bastion of Western civilization, facing an Islamic Europe .

First I will describe the situation on the ground in Europe . Then, I will
say a few things about Islam. To close I will tell you about a meeting in
Jerusalem .

The Europe you know is changing.

You have probably seen the landmarks. But in all of these cities, sometimes
a few blocks away from your tourist destination, there is another world. It
is the world of the parallel society created by Muslim mass-migration.

All throughout Europe a new reality is rising: entire Muslim neighbourhoods
where very few indigenous people reside or are even seen. And if they are,
they might regret it. This goes for the police as well. It's the world of
head scarves, where women walk around in figureless tents, with baby
strollers and a group of children. Their husbands, or slaveholders if you
prefer, walk three steps ahead. With mosques on many street corners. The
shops have signs you and I cannot read. You will be hard-pressed to find
any economic activity. These are Muslim ghettos controlled by religious
fanatics. These are Muslim neighbourhoods, and they are mushrooming in
every city across Europe . These are the building-blocks for territorial
control of increasingly larger portions of Europe , street by street,
neighbourhood by neighbourhood, city by city.

There are now thousands of mosques throughout Europe . With larger
congregations than there are in churches. And in every European city there
are plans to build super-mosques that will dwarf every church in the region.
Clearly, the signal is: we rule.

Many European cities are already one-quarter Muslim: just take Amsterdam ,
Marseille and Malmo in Sweden . In many cities the majority of the under-18
population is Muslim. Paris is now surrounded by a ring of Muslim
neighbourhoods. Mohammed is the most popular name among boys in many

In some elementary schools in Amsterdam the farm can no longer be mentioned,
because that would also mean mentioning the pig, and that would be an insult
to Muslims.

Many state schools in Belgium and Denmark only serve halal food to all
pupils. In once-tolerant Amsterdam gays are beaten up almost exclusively by
Muslims. Non-Muslim women routinely hear 'whore, whore'. Satellite dishes
are not pointed to local TV stations, but to stations in the country of

In France school teachers are advised to avoid authors deemed offensive to
Muslims, including Voltaire and Diderot; the same is increasingly true of
Darwin . The history of th e Holocaust can no longer be taught because of
Muslim sensitivity.

In England sharia courts are now officially part of the British legal
system. Many neighbourhoods in France are no-go areas for women without head
scarves. Last week a man almost died after being beaten up by Muslims in
Brussels , because he was drinking during the Ramadan.

Jews are fleeing France in record numbers, on the run for the worst wave of
anti-Semitism since World War II. French is now commonly spoken on the
streets of Tel Aviv and Netanya, Israel . I could go on forever with
stories like this. Stories about Islamization.

A total of fifty-four million Muslims now live in Europe . San Diego
University recently calculated that a staggering 25 percent of the
population in Europe will be Muslim just 12 years from now. Bernhard Lewis
has predicted a Muslim majority by the end of this century.

Now these are just numbers. And the numbers would not be threatening if the
Muslim-immigrants had a strong desire to assimilate. But there are few
signs of that. The Pew Research Centre reported that half of French Muslims
see their loyalty to Islam as greater than their loyalty to France . One-third
of French Muslims do not object to suicide attacks. The British Centre for
Social Cohesion reported that one-third of British Muslim students are in
favour of a worldwide caliphate. Muslims demand what they call 'respect'. And
this is how we give them respect. We have Muslim official state holidays.

The Christian-Democratic attorney general is willing to accept sharia in the
Netherlands if there is a Muslim majority. We have cabinet members with
passports from Morocco and Turkey .

Muslim demands are supported by unlawful behaviour, ranging from petty
crimes and random violence, for example against ambulance workers and bus
drivers, to small-scale riots. Paris has seen its uprising in the
low-income suburbs, the banlieus. I call the perpetrators 'settlers'. Because
that is what they are. They do not come to integrate into our societies;
they come to integrate our society into their Dar-al-Islam. Therefore, they
are settlers.

Much of this street violence I mentioned is directed exclusively against
non-Muslims, forcing many native people to leave their neighbourhoods, their
cities, their countries. Moreover, Muslims are now a swing vote not to be

The second thing you need to know is the importance of Mohammed the prophet.
His behaviour is an example to all Muslims and cannot be criticized. Now,
if Mohammed had been a man of peace, let us say like Ghandi and Mother
Theresa wrapped in one, there would be no problem. But Mohammed was a
warlord, a mass murderer, a paedophile, and had several marriages - at the
same time. Islamic tradition tells us how he fought in battles, how he had
his enemies murdered and even had prisoners of war executed. Mohammed
himself slaughtered the Jewish tribe of Banu Qurayza. If it is good for
Islam, it is good. If it is bad for Islam, it is bad.

Let no one fool you about Islam being a religion. Sure, it has a god, and a
here-after, and 72 virgins. But in its essence Islam is a political
ideology. It is a system that lays down detailed rules for society and the
life of every person. Islam wants to dictate every aspect of life. Islam
means 'submission'. Islam is not compatible with freedom and democracy,
because what it strives for is sharia. If you want to compare Islam to
anything, compare it to communism or national-socialism, these are all
totalitarian ideologies.

Now you know why Winston Churchill called Islam 'the most retrograde force
in the world', and why he compared Mein Kampf to the Quran. The public has
wholeheartedly accepted the Palestinian narrative, and sees Israel as the
aggressor. I have lived in this country and visited it dozens of times. I
support Israel . First, because it is the Jewish homeland after two
thousand years of exile up to and including Auschwitz, second because it is
a democracy, and third because Israel is our first line of defence.

This tiny country is situated on the fault line of jihad, frustrating
Islam's territorial advance. Israel is facing the front lines of jihad,
like Kashmir, Kosovo, the Philippines, Southern Thailand, Darfur in Sudan,
Lebanon, and Aceh in Indonesia . Israel is simply in the way. The same way
West-Berlin was during the Cold War.

The war against Israel is not a war against Israel . It is a war against
the West. It is jihad. Israel is simply receiving the blows that are meant
for all of us. If there would have been no Israel , Islamic imperialism
would have found other venues to release its energy and its desire for
conquest. Thanks to Israeli parents who send their children to the army and
lay awake at night, parents in Europe and America can sleep well and dream,
unaware of the dangers looming.

Many in Europe argue in favour of abandoning Israel in order to address the
grievances of our Muslim minorities. But if Israel were, God forbid, to go
down, it would not bring any solace to the West. It would not mean our
Muslim minorities would all of a sudden change their behaviour, and accept
our values. On the contrary, the end of Israel would give enormous
encouragement to the forces of Islam. They would, and rightly so, see the
demise of Israel as proof that the West is weak, and doomed. The end of
Israel would not mean the end of our problems with Islam, but only the
beginning. It would mean the start of the final battle for world
domination. If they can get Israel , they can get everything. So-called
journalists volunteer to label any and all critics of Islamization as a
'right-wing extremists' or 'racists'. In my country, the Netherlands , 60
percent of the population now sees the mass immigration of Muslims as the
number one policy mistake since World War II. And another 60 percent sees
Islam as the biggest threat. Yet there is a greater danger than terrorist
attacks, the scenario of America as the last man standing. The lights may
go out in Europe faster than you can imagine. An Islamic Europe means a
Europe without freedom and democracy, an economic wasteland, an intellectual
nightmare, and a loss of military might for America - as its allies will
turn into enemies, enemies with atomic bombs. With an Islamic Europe, it
would be up to America alone to preserve the heritage of Rome , Athens and
Jerusalem .

Dear friends, liberty is the most precious of gifts. My generation never
had to fight for this freedom, it was offered to us on a silver platter, by
people who fought for it with their lives. All throughout Europe , American
cemeteries remind us of the young boys who never made it home, and whose
memory we cherish. My generation does not own this freedom; we are merely
its custodians. We can only hand over this hard won liberty to Europe 's
children in the same state, in which it was offered to us. We cannot strike
a deal with mullahs and imams. Future generations would never forgive us. We
cannot squander our liberties. We simply do not have the right to do so. We
have to take the necessary action now to stop this Islamic stupidity from
destroying the free world, that we know.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Think carefully before donating to the NIF

MKs call for New Israel Fund probe
04/02/2010 02:04

Schneller: I’m interested in establishing boundaries and limits.
Talkbacks (5)
The brouhaha over allegations raised against the New Israel Fund in a report released this week by the Zionist student group Im Tirtzu has spread to the Knesset, where a number of initiatives to investigate the funding of NGOs and non-profit organizations operating in Israel have been broached.

After details of the Im Tirtzu report – which lays direct blame for the United Nations’ Goldstone Report on the IDF’s Operation Cast Lead in Gaza last winter on the NIF – were printed in an article in Ma’ariv last Friday, MKs Yisrael Hasson and Tzachi Hanegbi, both from the Kadima Party and members of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, announced that they would push for a special hearing on the matter in that committee, in which the report’s claims would be investigated thoroughly.

According to the report, 92 percent of the negative citations used in the Goldstone Report criticizing the IDF’s conduct in Gaza last year came from 16 Israeli NGOs, which Im Tirtzu has alleged received some $7.8 million in financial support from the NIF in 2008-2009.

But Hasson and Hanegbi were not the only ones demanding answers this week. MK Otniel Schneller (Kadima), also a member of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday that he was pushing for government authorization to create a parliamentary investigative committee to look into the funding and activities of the NIF, the organizations it finances and other NGOs operating in Israel, with the hopes of establishing well-defined lines that would not be crossed in the future.

The creation of a parliamentary investigative committee would be a significant step up from the other committee hearings possibly facing the NIF, and would also have broader powers, which would be decided upon at the time of the committee’s creation.

While Schneller said he had hoped to bring the committee’s creation up for a decision in the Knesset on Wednesday, he had opted to delay the decision until next week in order to “solidify a broad consensus on the matter.”

In his conversation with the Post, however, Schneller refuted the idea that such an investigation would be an affront to freedom of speech, and said the allegations surrounding the NIF had “made it clear that red lines needed to be identified.”

“I’m not interesting in shutting people up,” Schneller told the Post. “I’m interested in establishing boundaries and limits.”

“There’s a certain limit to what is legitimate and what is not,” he continued. “If you have [Israeli] organizations that are actively working against the State of Israel, well then wait a minute – that’s not legitimate, and enough is enough.”

Schneller added that he felt at least one of the groups connected to the NIF, which had given testimony to Goldstone’s commission of inquiry, had overstepped the bounds of legitimacy in that it had already tried to bring the same issue – regarding IDF actions in Gaza – to the Israeli Supreme Court, which rejected the case.

“They attempted to bring a case alleging that the IDF had destroyed entire villages in Gaza,” Schneller said. “The Supreme Court threw it out and dismissed it as false, but the group nonetheless presented the issue to Goldstone. That’s a prime example of an illegitimate activity, because it’s not only faulting the IDF based on false testimony, but it’s saying that decisions made by the courts of the State of Israel are not binding.”

While Schneller insisted that he would continue to pursue the matter in the Knesset, another MK, David Rotem (Israel Beiteinu), who heads the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, announced on Wednesday his intention to form a subcommittee that would look into contributions to Israeli NGOs from foreign governments and organizations.

A press release declaring the need for “a subcommittee whose main task is to investigate the system through which funds are received by NGOs from foreign states,” was sent out by Rotem on Wednesday afternoon.

“The subcommittee under my auspices is not being created to look into any specific organization,” Rotem said in a statement. “But for the need to thoroughly examine the system in which funding is received from foreign governments, which, from time to time, come with foreign motivations.”

Oscars and the Jews

The Big Picture
Patrick Goldstein on the collision of entertainment, media and pop culture
« Previous Post | The Big Picture Home

Jews in Oscar films: Are they vile throwbacks to Jewish stereotypes?
February 3, 2010 | 5:29 pm

Three of this year's Oscar best picture nominees have something unusual in common -- they have leading characters who are open, self-proclaimed Jews.

Think about it: It's almost impossible to find any goyim in the Coen brothers' "A Serious Man," a slyly satiric look at the Jewish community in a 1967-era Midwestern town. A big chunk of Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds" revolves around a raucous band of Nazi-scalping Jewish soldiers who've been assembled to go after the Fuhrer and his high command. And Lone Scherfig's "An Education," costars Peter Sarsgaard as an unscrupulous young Jewish real-estate speculator who woos a 16-year-old British schoolgirl eager to see the world.

You'd think this might be cause for celebration, or at least a show in pride, in the Jewish community, especially since you can often go years at a time without seeing openly Jewish characters in Hollywood films. But are Jews happy? As my grandfather (who spoke Hebrew with a Southern accent) used to say: Not in a million years. In fact, the Jewish Journal just ran a provocative cover story entitled: "Realism or Anti-Semitism: Negative Depictions of Jews Raise the Age Old Question."

Written by Tom Tugend, the piece attempts to be even-handed, saying that "A Serious Man" and "An Education," depending on the viewpoint, "represent either vile throwbacks to Jewish stereotypes in Nazi propaganda movies or creative works of art that show Jews, like other ethnicities, as multidimensional human beings." But it turns out that most of the people in the story actually had very little problem with the films. Tugend interviews all sorts of smart folks who defend the movies' portrayal of Jews, including historian Neal Gabler and UCLA professor Howard Suber. Even Anti-Defamation League national director Abraham Foxman supports "An Education," who said: "To call it anti-Semitic would suggest that any depiction of bad behavior by a Jew is beyond the pale. That is not the view of ADL, and ADL does not find the film offensive."

So who are the people who are up in arms over the movies? Tugend only found two people he could actually quote as being outraged by the films. One is Irina Bragin, who teaches world and English literature at Touro College. She hated "An Education" so much that she walked out in the middle, which in my mind, already disqualifies her as a serious critic, since she didn't bother to judge the film in its entirety. In a piece she wrote for the Journal, she called "An Education" "an artful film which wraps old anti-Semitic messages into a pretty new package." The other is Internet movie critic Joe Baltake, who said of "An Education": "This film should be offensive to any thinking, feeling person," going on to complain about Jewish film critics who "remain firm in their convictions that the film isn't anti-Semitic."

That would presumably include my paper's film critic, Kenny Turan, who in his rave review of the film wrote that " 'An Education' does so many things so well, it's difficult to know where to begin when cataloging its virtues." I felt the same way. But what especially bothers me is that the Journal seems to have gotten sucked into the vortex of another age-old issue -- the hyper-sensitivity among Jews to any portrayal of a Jew that could possibly be viewed as a negative stereotype by the outside world.

Remember, "An Education" is based on a memoir by British journalist Lynn Barber about her teenage affair with a man who was Jewish. So it's not a work of imagination, where you could ask the question, as many did of Spike Lee when he cast John Turturro as a sleazy Jewish nightclub owner named Moe Flatbush in "Mo' Better Blues": Why make him Jewish? (After Lee was attacked by the ADL and B'nai B'rith, he responded by arguing that not every Jew in his films had to be a good guy, that there have been plenty of exploitative Jewish nightclub owners and, furthermore, that "not every black person is a pimp, murderer, prostitute, convict, rapist or drug addict, but that hasn't stopped Hollywood from writing these roles for African-Americans.")

As for "A Serious Man," while it is clearly a work of fiction, it is also clearly based on the Coen brothers' youthful memories of growing up in a closeknit Jewish suburb of Minneapolis. As someone who is roughly the same age as the Coens, I watched the film with a delirious sense of recognition. I knew those Jews in that movie and felt just as alienated from their neurotic ways as Larry Gopnik's red-headed son does in the film. Even though my family are Southern Jews, they have the same Jewish DNA as the Coen's characters, in the sense that I could've cast the majority of my family in most of the parts in the film, right down to the crazy uncle played by Richard Kind.

When I went to Hebrew school, I had to listen to long, hazy and often entirely unsatisfying religious discourses by rabbis who were eerily similar to the ones in the film. If you thought the Coens were offering a mean-spirited, self-hating portrayal of Jews, you missed the point of the movie. It's simply a comically barbed look at an insular community that simply happens to be Jewish, because the Coens did what all good writers do -- they wrote what they know.

Frankly, I think the Journal is making much of nothing. It's telling that it couldn't find any Jews who were upset about Tarantino's portrayal of bloody, baseball-bat-wielding Jewish tough guys in "Inglourious Basterds," since I'm betting that every Jew -- starting with my father, who's probably seen the film a dozen times by now -- is secretly, or not so secretly, thrilled by their no-nonsense virility.

It also seems fitting that when the Journal asked Ethan Coen what he would say to people who believe their film is anti-Semitic, he struck just the right note of "Basterds"-style defiance by responding: "Too bad, you big crybaby -- that's what David Mamet would say." Funny, that's just what I would've said too.

Photo: Michael Stuhlbarg in "A Serious Man." Credit: Wilson Webb/Focus Features.

Monday, February 1, 2010