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Eureka: Natalie Portman, DOS Human Rights report and Kim Jung Un
by Jay Gutman
2018-04-26 07:58:09
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The Genesis prize. I don't think giving the prize to Natalie Portman was such a bad idea. She does make Jews and Israelis look gracious, she's always been open about being Israeli and has publicly spoken Hebrew. She has played both Jewish and non-Jewish roles on screen and is one of the rare child actors who made a smooth transition to adult life.

portm1_400Unlike Mayim Bialik who likes to ruffle feathers with her sometimes anti-Semitic fans on Jewish and Israeli questions, Natalie Portman gracefully avoided discussing Judaism or Israel in public, especially Israeli politics. At the Genesis prize awarding ceremony, the Israeli Prime Minister traditionally gives a congratulatory speech to the recipient. Portman, who had so far avoided political statements, felt uncomfortable. Then she made clumsy remarks. Then even clumsier remarks. Now she wants to go back to talking about her kids, fashion and shooting movies around the world, working with actors and directors. She probably had no idea the Genesis prize was such a big deal in Israel, and hey, the Genesis prize just got more publicity.

DOS Human rights report. The Department of State issued its annual human rights report and there are a few important mistakes I want to point out when it discusses Algeria and its Jews. First, the report says that an Algerian blogger was arrested for interviewing a former Israeli diplomat and publishing the interview on his blog. I double checked this. The “Israeli diplomat” is highly unlikely to be Israeli, first because I recognize the “diplomat's” Egyptian Arabic accent (not Palestinian, Jordanian etc.), second because, for the benefit of the doubt, unlike Israeli Arabs he does not use validation cues (Israeli Arabs use a lot of “right? Correct? Am I right?) and because the “diplomat” speaks for 7 minutes uninterrupted, finally because there's nothing Israeli about the context he's giving. The interview was not the only fake thing about the blog, the blogger (I couldn't find his blog) probably started other rumors about high profile politicians and high-ranking Algerian officials and probably did other stupid things.

Now for its “anti-Semitism in Algeria” section the report states that Algerian Jews don't have access to high-level administrative positions. Let me say that I'm probably the only Jew with an Algerian passport present in Algeria and of age to work for Algerian administrations. I'd gladly work there, but the pay is meager and working conditions are not always optimal so thanks but no thanks. The report probably refers to a fake article I've referred to in another article, a fake story where an alleged Jew claims that his father did not have access to high-ranking positions in the government. Finally the report says that the Algerian government gives Jews a difficult time with bureaucracy, but I think it gives everyone else a hard time and Jews are not the only targets of this practice. Let me conclude by saying that anti-Semitism is prevalent in society at large, but that the press and the government use a lot of self-censorship and seem to have no clear positions on Jews at large, or the State of Israel for that matter. Articles on Jews and Israel are very rare in the press, and government declarations very sporadic.

Now to denuclearization on the Korean peninsula. Some are still skeptical about Kim Jung Un's intentions to denuclearize, but the signs are there:

-South Korean anti-Communist anti-North Korean politicians have been inaudible, are an ageing class and have had trouble with tough anti-corrpution laws that have weakened their organizations.

-Russia and China seem to back up North Korea in case of an attack from South Korea, so South Koreans probably wouldn't try to cross the 38th parallel.

-North Korea wants to go back to selling its coal, wants more tourists to visit and seems to want to engage in trade with the rest of the world.

-South Koreans and Amerians have repeatedly said that regime change is not the objective in North Korea.

So the North Koreans probably have a win-win deal. I think it's unlikely North Korea will change its mind, unless they get challenged with a demand they can't meet.

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