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The Whole Megillah: A Weekly News Roundup

Here’s a look at what else is going on in politics, culture and media.

Could Obama cut Jewish funds? President Obama’s budget-cut proposal could put some national and local Jewish groups at risk, according to JTA, if they rely so heavily on government money. We should have “all vulnerable Americans” in mind when fighting for our funds, said a Jewish Week editorial. “The welfare of our own community is in so many ways linked to the well being of our neighbors.” Some Jewish groups praised the U.S. budget for preserving aid to Israel, but others, like B’nai B’rith International, worry that cuts could jeopardize the future of retirement in America, says the Jewish Journal.

J Street vs. Birthright After Birthright refused to allow J Street to sponsor an Israel trip, the “pro-Israel, pro-peace” lobbying group decided to launch its own rival mission that will begin sending students to Israel this summer, JTA reported. The announcement comes just weeks after rumors of a partnership between the two organizations — which would have reportedly added a political element to the trip focused on social action — were proven false, according to the Jerusalem Post. Some were critical of how J Street handled the whole affair, while others believe at Commentary magazine that Birthright acted a bit disingenuously when it said it shies away from political affiliations. “The essence of Birthright is political,” said one blogger.

How Mubarak’s resignation complicates Israel’s situation In recent weeks, many American Jews have worried about what’s in store for Israel amid Middle Eastern protests. The situation is akin to a “shaky tightrope stretched between poles of hope and dread,” said The New York Times. Notable Jewish organizations came out largely in favor of Hosni Mubarak’s resignation, the Atlantic reported, and in the Jerusalem Post some called on Europeans to get behind similar protests in Iran. Meanwhile, in Tunisia, the head of the Jewish community requested more security to protect his community. What’s next inside this turbulent region?

The ‘war’ over Ukraine’s Jewish quarter The Jewish quarter in Lviv, Ukraine, is under attack as part of an “all-out war over the protection of the city’s heritage,” reported the Kviv Post. Old synagogues remain from WWII, but a new private developer threatens to tear them down to build a hotel. “We’ve lost the city of the Middle Ages,” said architect Oksana Boyko. Separately, some of Ukraine’s “most wealthy Jewish oligarchs” made headlines this week, for a video they appeared in that contains nudity, drug use, and sex dolls. They “might have managed to get past the embarrassment,” said Ynetnews, if not for their “dancing while donned in prayer shawls.”

Soccer team fields fake Jews A referee literally blew the whistle this week on a scheme by a Jewish soccer team that was passing off players from other religions under Jewish-sounding aliases, the Jewish Chronicle reported. The ref became suspicious when he caught some Holy Mount Zion players calling each other by names other than their registered ones. League officials used Facebook to reveal the players as Polish, not Jewish. The team has been suspended from its league. “Yes, I know what you are thinking,” joked Gawker’s Max Read, “‘gosh, does this ever bring up fascinating and frequently-debated questions of identity, religion, practice, ethnicity, etc.’”


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