Your morning spiel for Wednesday, Jan. 13

George Clooney in 'Hail Caesar!
George Clooney in 'Hail Caesar!

News – Diaspora

Notable Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz appeared on Fox & Friends Tuesday to discuss free speech on college campuses, or a lack thereof. “I know when I speak on college campuses in favour of Israel, I need armed guards protecting me from radical leftist students who would use physical intimidation,” he said. “They won’t give me a safe space. They won’t give pro-Israel students a safe space, they won’t give Christian students a safe space.”

Given the horror stories I’ve heard about intimidation tactics used against Jewish students across North American campuses, I’d say his argument is spot-on. College campuses are supposed to be a breeding ground for dialogue and ideas, not bullying others into believing that only your narrative should be heard.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry thanked Iran after its prompt release of ten U.S. Navy soldiers that were detained after entering Iranian territory. “That this issue was resolved peacefully and efficiently is a testament to the critical role diplomacy plays in keeping our country safe, secure and strong,” Kerry said. Experts say its Kerry’s close relationship to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif that helped expedite the process.

Amidst a far-right, anti-immigration rally in Dresden, two Israeli Arabs were reportedly attacked by six men dressed in black after they were heard conversing in Arabic. The same gang also allegedly targeted Indian and African men that evening.

Marco Rubio
Marco Rubio

U.S. Republican hopeful Marco Rubio promised supporters that if he were to be elected the next President of the United States, his first trip abroad would be to Israel. His response generated a wave of applause from the audience.

With over seven million members, the United Methodist Church is one of the largest Protestant congregations in the United States. Yesterday, the church announced that it will boycott five Israeli banks for “human rights” reasons. Palestinian advocates have already declared it a major win for BDS, and is apparently the first time an American church has taken part in a large boycott of an Israeli financial institution.

News – Israel

In a cartoon contest, Israeli teens paid homage to the victims of the Charlie Hebdo massacre, as well as commenting on the attack’s religious, political and social ramifications.

The Toronto Star ran a feature about Israeli medics who have been stationed on the border with Syria in order to provide first aid, “even though the two countries remain in a state of war.” The Star notes that some 2,000 Syrians have been transferred from the border into Israel to receive aid from Israeli hospitals. “We know them from wars. They are an enemy country. But, like every country, you have to distinguish between extremists and you have the innocent,” said Israeli Sgt. First Class Jonathan Achituv.

Muhammed Abu Khdeir
Muhammed Abu Khdeir

The two Israeli teens convicted of killing 16-year-old Muhammed Abu Khdeir in 2014 (which eventually led to the 50-day war between Hamas and the IDF) will be sentenced in court today, according to Israeli news reports. Because both were minors at the time, their identities cannot be disclosed.

Following a marathon in Tiberias, the local Leonardo Hotel decided to provide runners with free massages as a ‘good for you’ of sorts. However, the Hotel picked an odd choice for a venue: its synagogue. After Channel 10 posted photos of the synagogue-turned-massage parlour, many were (understandably) outraged and offended. “A synagogue is a holy and sanctified place for each and every Jew. These pictures are a shot to the heart for every Jew,” stated Chief Rabbi David Lau. Funny how they didn’t think that one through.

An Israeli supermarket chain, Rami Levy, is under scrutiny after it was reported that an employee was allegedly discriminated against for dating an Arab Muslim man. The employee told Israel’s Army Radio that her colleagues “turned their backs” on her. “I was going out with an Arab Muslim man, and I hid this fact because I knew that at Rami Levy there’s a policy in place,” she said. “If a female employee dates an Arab man, they try to fire her. That comes from the top. They tell the human resources department to thoroughly check if any of the girls are dating Arab men.”

Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely declared today that Swedish officials are unwelcome in Israel, following a call from Sweden’s foreign minister, Margot Wallstrom, to investigate Israel for conducting “extrajudicial” executions of Palestinians during the latest wave of terror. The call from Wallstrom is the latest in a laundry list of purportedly anti-Israel sentiments from the FM, including the time she likened the Paris terror attacks to “Palestinian frustration.” If Swedish officials do indeed agree with Wallstrom, then I’m with Hotovely.

Aliyah from the United Kingdom was up nearly 25 per cent in 2015, which Rael Goodman, head of the Jewish Agency in the UK, attested to Israel’s thriving economy, as a “country full of opportunities, offering an exciting and meaningful future in the heart of the Jewish world.”


Following a kosher marijuana debate in Canada (apparently Toronto and Montreal disagree on whether pot needs to be kosher-certified), Israel’s Health Ministry published a plan yesterday that aims to significantly open up the medical marijuana market to new farms and sellers.

Israeli researchers are finding new ways to use gold, looking to utilize gold nanoparticles to treat life-threatening blockages in the arteries. If the treatment is successful, one could only imagine how expensive it would be.


Intel is collaborating with an Israeli sports tech company, Replay Technologies, in order to allow sports fans to watch “free-dimensional” clips on their smartphones from every conceivable angle. Hopefully they’ll unveil it before the NFL playoffs continue this weekend?

It seems like everyone’s weighing in on the Powerball lottery in the United States, including Jewish sports magnate Mark Cuban, providing the lucky winner with a list of things he/she should do if he/she were to win, including this poignant tidbit: “If you weren’t happy yesterday you won’t be happy tomorrow. It’s money. It’s not happiness.” Well put.


Remember Salt N Pepa, of Push It fame? Well, they, alongside comedian Elon Gold and actor Ian Ziering, teamed up with approximately 1,000 Jewish kids yesterday in an effort to break a Guinness World Record for the biggest number of people to take part in a baking session. And what were they baking, you ask? A giant challah.

The “Kids Mega Challah Bake” event was organized by Jewish moms in New York, but included mothers (and children) of all religious beliefs. How in the hell they got Salt N Pepa I’m not so sure. In any event, it’s the perfect time for a comeback tour, where they can announce that they’ve added a new member to the group. Say hello to Salt, Pepa, and Challah.

Arnon Milchan, the former Israeli spy-turned-billionaire movie producer, is making headlines (again) now that the movie he financed, The Revenant, is getting such rave reviews, particularly after picking up a handful of awards at the Golden Globes. In fact, in director Alejandro González Iñárritu’s acceptance speech for Best Director, Milchan is the first person he thanked.

A New York lawyer’s well-choreographed marriage proposal to his Israeli-American boyfriend is going viral, garnering over 600,000 views since it was unleashed in late December. Watch it below:

Jewish a cappella group the Maccabeats have deviated away from their usual Jewish holiday parodies with a song and video in honour of Dr. Martin Luther King Day. A cover of James Taylor’s Shed A Little Light, the group team up with another a cappella group, Naturally 7, to get the job done.

Jewish actors Adam Sandler and Mila Kunis are up for the prestigious awards in Hollywood: the Raspberry Awards (affectionately known as the Razzies). Honouring the absolute worst in cinema, Sandler’s Pixels and Kunis’ Jupiter Ascending both received several nominations. Mazels you too. You’ve made us proud.

The second trailer for the Coen Brothers’ forthcoming new star-studded film Hail Caesar! came out yesterday, and it’s as equally charming as its predecessor. With stars like George Clooney, Jonah Hill, Tilda Swinton, Ralph Fiennes, Scarlett Johansson, Frances McDormand, and Channing Tatum, it has potential to be the best and funniest film they’ve released since Burn After Reading.

Philadelphia Jewish rapper Mac Miller dropped a new video for Weekend (featuring Miguel) this week. Miller, alongside rappers like Drake, Lil Dicky and Action Bronson, is another testament to the fact that Heebs got mad skills on the mic.

The fiddle is a quintessentially Jewish instrument (thanks in part to Fiddler on the Roof), and is the only instrument used in a new recreation of Michael Jackson’s iconic screamer, Thriller. Best thing you’ll hear all day:


Speaking of Fiddler, did you know there’s a Japanese version of the iconic Jewish musical? You do now:

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