Friday Five: Avigdor Liberman, Prince Willem-Alexander, Mims Driscoll, Renato Huarte, Ronald Lauder

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, of Likud and Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman of Yisrael Beiteinu holding a joint news conference announcing that their two parties are joining forces ahead of the upcoming Israeli general elections, Oct. 25, 2012.  (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, of Likud and Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman of Yisrael Beiteinu holding a joint news conference announcing that their two parties are joining forces ahead of the upcoming Israeli general elections, Oct. 25, 2012. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Avigdor Liberman’s moment (again)

Avigdor Liberman has been called a lot of things, but Mr. Prime Minister hasn’t been one of them — yet. It’s becoming more and more difficult to dismiss Israel’s nationalist, Moldovan-born foreign minister from the Yisrael Beiteinu Party as a fringe phenomenon. This week, by merging his party’s Knesset list with that of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling Likud Party, Liberman cemented his role as kingmaker in Israeli politics. The move virtually ensures that Netanyahu will be able to overcome any challenge from a center-left coalition when it comes to getting first crack at forming Israel’s next government after elections are held in January. The merger prompted some reporters to ask if the move earned Liberman a rotation as prime minister (it wouldn’t be the first time Israel had a rotating seat for prime minister). This time, the answer is no. But who knows what the future holds? 

The kipah prince: Willem-Alexander

Crown princes usually wear, well, crowns, not kipahs. But Willem-Alexander Claus George Ferdinand, the crown prince of the Netherlands, donned Jewish headgear on Tuesday when he dedicated Amsterdam’s Jewish Cultural Quarter during a ceremony at the city’s Portuguese Synagogue. The donning of religious head coverings by royals is a sensitive issue in the Netherlands. Earlier this year, the Dutch anti-Muslim politician Geert Wilders called Dutch Queen Beatrix a “sad spectacle” after she put on a veil during a visit to Oman, deriding it as a sign of “oppression of women."

Mims Driscoll stands up to bullying

With a tearful YouTube video, a Facebook campaign and a defiant stance, Mims Driscoll is standing up to bullying. The Fort Mill, S.C., mother took action after her 15-year-old son, Caspian, was picked on by his football team for his Jewish heritage. The teen was taunted, then beaten, after asking his teammates to quiet down on a bus so he could call his Jewish grandmother for her birthday. Mims is demanding that the Fort Mills school district take action.

Renato Huarte, viva Limmud Mexico!

When Renato Huarte witnessed Limmud firsthand in Britain, he knew the Jewish learning experience was a must for Mexico. So Huarte, a Jewish educator, and a band of more than three dozen volunteers is making it a reality: Limmud Mexico will make its debut Oct. 28. Some 300 Jews of diverse affiliations are expected to take part in sessions devoted to Jewish thought, arts, culture, life, learning and teaching from more than 60 presenters. Even the kids will have their experience with “Limudito” for 6- to 12-year-olds. Other Limmuds in Latin America have been held in Argentina and Brazil.

Where in the world is Ronald Lauder?

Ronald Lauder is no stranger to Jewish life, but by all accounts it has been a particularly busy week for the cosmetics magnate and Jewish philanthropist. In Berlin, Lauder broke ground on a building for a rabbinical seminary as part of the 25th anniversary celebrations of his Lauder Foundation, which funds Jewish schools and institutions throughout Europe to the tune of millions of dollars per year. In Bogota, Lauder met with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos shortly before the World Jewish Congress (of which Lauder is president) awarded Santos the Shalom Prize for seeking peace. In Israel, a report said Lauder was behind Americans for Jerusalem, which is supporting a massive get-out-the-vote campaign among U.S. citizens in Israel that is said to favor Mitt Romney (Lauder’s office reportedly had no comment).

NEXT STORY