Jews fit to print


From a profile of an eclectic, peace-loving West Bank rabbi to an examination of the Jewish ancestry of Spanish Catholics, The New York Times had a bevy of Jewish-related stories over the last few days:

  • In an Op-ed, Seth Lipsky, the founding editor of the New York Sun and the English-language Forward, defends the role attorney-general nominee Eric Holder played in Bill Clinton’s pardon of Marc Rich.

An outcry is erupting over the role the nominee for attorney general, Eric Holder, played in President Bill Clinton’s pardon of financier Marc Rich in 2001. Both from the left and right, blogs are abubble, energized by news reports that Mr. Holder was more deeply involved in the Rich pardon than Mr. Holder’s supporters acknowledge. There are, however, those of us who have long maintained that Mr. Clinton was right to pardon Mr. Rich and his partner, Pincus Green.

A series of recent Israeli actions in the mainly Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem have raised tensions there, with Palestinian and Israeli critics contending that they are part of a wider plan to “Judaize” historically charged areas around the Old City.

About two weeks ago Menachem Froman, the chief rabbi of this Jewish settlement perched on the edge of the Judean desert, had a dream. In the dream, he recounted in an interview this week, he was sitting with the late Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat “as we used to.” “It was like he was pushing me to continue in my efforts to make peace between our peoples,” he said. Rabbi Froman, 63, is a founding member of Gush Emunim, the ideological, messianic settlement movement that sprang up after Israel’s conquest of the West Bank, with its biblical landmarks, in the 1967 war. He has been living here for 35 years, teaches at religious seminaries in Tekoa and in another West Bank settlement in the Hebron hills, and wears a black suit and white shirt, conventional Orthodox rabbinical garb. But that is about where his similarity with other Jewish settlers in the West Bank ends.

  • Spanish Catholics have Jewish and Muslim ancestry:

The genetic signatures of people in Spain and Portugal provide new and explicit evidence of the mass conversions of Sephardic Jews and Muslims to Catholicism in the 15th and 16th centuries after Christian armies wrested Spain back from Muslim control, a team of geneticists reports. Twenty percent of the population of the Iberian Peninsula has Sephardic Jewish ancestry and 11 percent have DNA reflecting Moorish ancestors, the geneticists have found.

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