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Friday Five: Tim Bishop, Paul Ryan, Csanad Szegedy, Marika Weinberger, Avi Dichter

Rep. Tim Bishop (Photos via Creative Commons)

Rep. Tim Bishop (Photos via Creative Commons)

Tim Bishop’s bar mitzvah fireworks

We’ve heard of bar mitzvah party problems before – say, an $8 million dollar bat mitzvah celebration in 2005 and a jailhouse party in 2009. But Rep. Tim Bishop (D-N.Y.) may have crossed a line when his campaign requested a political contribution from a constituent looking to add a spark to his son’s bar mitzvah party. According to Politico, Eric Semier, a former New York Times reporter from Southampton, N.Y., was throwing the bash for his son in May and asked for Bishop’s help to expedite government permits for a fireworks display. Three days before the big bang — which was launched from Semier’s roof and wound up damaging a neighbor’s Bentley — Bishop’s daughter, the congressman’s campaign fundraiser, suggested that the family donate up to $10,000. Despite Semier’s eventual insistence that no wrong was done, the ask may have violated house ethics contribution rules. That’s bad news for Bishop, who faces Republican Randy Altschuler in November in a rematch of an election race two years ago that Bishop won by only 593 votes. To quote a bar mitzvah party anthem from the late 90’s, "It’s like the more money we come across, the more problems we see."

Paul Ryan: Good for the Jews?

Paul Ryan was guaranteed “good (or not) for the Jews” coverage as soon as Mitt Romney named him to the number two spot on the GOP ticket, and the question generated a split response. Israel? Good for the Jews, said the ubiquitous “pro-Israel insiders,” as he co-sponsored all the right legislation with his fellow young gun, House majority leader Eric Cantor (most recently the enhanced security cooperation act.) Not so much, say the groups whose concern is domestic policy. Ryan, who chairs the House Budget Committee, has proposed slashing funding for entitlements that Jewish social service groups insist are critical to sustaining for the elderly. (Jews are aging at a faster pace than most other ethnic and religious groups.) It all comes down to another “good for” question: With a substantial older Jewish population in the Sunshine State, will Florida be good for Romney?

Csanad Szegedy’s odd political journey

His name may not be the easiest to pronounce, but European nationalists will remember Csanad Szegedi for a long time. Last week it emerged that the now former senior member of Hungary’s anti-Semitic Jobbik party had met earlier in the month with a Chabad rabbi in Budapest to discuss his recently-acknowledged Jewish origins. Rabbi Shlomo Koves said Szegedi was even planning a trip to Auschwitz to honor the memory of the victims and to see first-hand where the Nazis held his grandmother, Magdolna Klein. His parents, he said, never told him he was Jewish. While reconnecting to his roots, Szegedy is also fighting to keep his seat in the European Parliament, which he won as a Jobbik candidate. Once the party’s vice president, Szegedy, 29, fell from grace within Jobbik after he told Hungarian media in June about his Jewishness. Jobbik leaders accused Szegedi of offering a bribe in 2010 to keep his Jewishness a secret, which he denied. They demanded he resign from all party roles and give up his seat in Brussels – the latter of which he is yet to do.

Marika Weinberger: Australia’s pain

Marika Weinberger, 84, this week was joined in anger by many Jews and others in Australia, Europe and elsewhere. The Hungarian-born Holocaust survivor alleges that Laszlo Csatary is responsible for the deaths of nine of her uncles in 1941. Hungarian prosecutors opted not to interview her and dropped that charge while still pursing another one. A few days later, Australia’s High Court declined to extradite alleged war criminal Karoly “Charles” Zentai to Hungary to face wartime charges there. Australia has never prosecuted an alleged Nazi war criminal. “Yes, I am disappointed. Yes, I am sad. But I am not surprised,” she told JTA. “I would have liked to live long enough that at least one would be convicted, so that we would show the world we care.”

Avi Dichter: Deciding vote on Iran?

Former Shin Bet security service head Avi Dichter could not resign from the Knesset fast enough to accept the government position of Home Front Defense Minister; Israeli newspapers showed photos of him tendering his resignation letter to Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin at a gas station on the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway. The former director of the Shin Bet security service and a former minister of internal security is now part of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s inner security cabinet. Many see him as a deciding vote in favor of a preemptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities; the remaining eight members are reportedly split on the issue. Meanwhile, several Israeli groups have launched several petitions and protests against the possibility of an Israeli strike against Iran. One online petition published Wednesday, which calls on Israel Air Force pilots to refuse to bomb Iran, has garnered hundreds of signatures.

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