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Friday Five: Shira Grinboim, Aharon Lichtenstein, Suha Arafat and more

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An Israeli boys' basketball team took a forfeit loss when its opponent refused to play because a girl, Shira Grinboim, pictured here, is on the team. (Nana10/Graphics by Uri Fintzy)

An Israeli boys’ basketball team took a forfeit loss when its opponent refused to play because a girl, Shira Grinboim, pictured here, is on the team. (Nana10/Graphics by Uri Fintzy)

Shira Grinboim becomes a symbol

Israel’s image has come under fire recently on an array of women’s issues, and now there’s yet another rallying cause for critics: An Israeli basketball team took a forfeit loss when its opponent refused to play because a girl, Shira Grinboim, 10, is on the team. The opposing coach kept his team from the court because the boys ran the risk of touching a member of the opposite sex during play. Secular Israelis are planning protest actions.

Aharon Lichtenstein urges tolerance for gays

The Orthodox Jewish community is not known as gay friendly. So it was big news when Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein, the head of a major Israeli yeshiva and the son-in-law of the intellectual leader of Modern Orthodoxy, the late Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, told his students that gays should be no more shunned than those who violate the Sabbath — which is to say, not very much at all. "So, those who break the Shabbat — we wish they would be Shabbat observant, but if that’s what they are, that’s what they are," Lichtenstein said, according to a transcript. "We accept them as they are and we don’t pass judgment.”

Eric Cantor votes no

Many Americans breathed a sigh of relief this week when the Congress passed an 11th-hour tax bill averting the so-called fiscal cliff. But Eric Cantor, the House majority leader and the sole Jewish Republican in Congress, was not among them. He voted no — the latest in a string of refusals to compromise his Republican ideals. Cantor’s opposition may burnish his credentials as a party purist, but it remains to be seen whether or not that’s good for the long-term health of his party.

Suha Arafat spills the beans

For years it was a central talking point by Israel’s advocates: The second intifada, the Palestinian uprising that erupted in the fall of 2000, was not a spontaneous response to a visit by Ariel Sharon to the Temple Mount but a planned movement orchestrated by the Palestinian leadership. Now Suha Arafat, the widow of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, has confirmed it. In an interview in December with Dubai TV, Suha said her husband was planning the uprising immediately after the failed Camp David summit and warned her to stay in Paris to avoid the violence.

Essam al-Erian wants Egyptian Jews back

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood doesn’t typically roll out the welcome mat for Jews. But Essam al-Erian, the deputy head of the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, says he wants Egypt’s exiled Jewish community to come home — to make room for the Palestinians to return to Israel. "I wish our Jews return to our country, so they can make room for the Palestinians to return, and Jews return to their homeland in light of the democracy" evolving in Egypt, al-Erian said in a TV

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