Friday Five: Ankie Spitzer, Hateful Elmo, Aaron Sorkin, Mikhail Fridman and Pamela Geller


Ankie Spitzer fights for remembrance

The global chorus is getting louder: Lawmakers and leaders from countries around the globe are calling for a moment of silence at this year’s summer Olympics to remember the 11 Israelis murdered by terrorists at the 1972 Olympic Games. One of the most powerful voices though belongs to Ankie Spitzer, whose late husband, Andrei, the Israeli fencing coach, was murdered at the Munich Games. While the International Olympic Committee has held firm in its refusal of a moment of silence, Spitzer remains determined, as she has been for four decades. “It cannot be that in the Olympic Village that this happened to 11 athletes,” Spitzer said. “They were not armed. They did not come to fight. They came to participate in the Olympics. It cannot be that tomorrow, nobody will talk about this anymore.”

The Elmo suit guy hates

The cute and fuzzy "Sesame Street" character Elmo usually spreads a message of love and coexistence. But what came out of the mouth of a man in the red Elmo costume in Central Park was anything but that. “I’m not making money because the Jewish costume company is harassing me,” said the man in a video. “That’s why I’m doing it, and that’s why I want people to read ‘The International Jew,’ because if you start your business in this city, Jews will harass you.” Police took the man to a psychiatric hospital, but he was soon back in the park, posing for pictures for money. The New York Times learned his identity: His name is Adam Sandler (no known relation to the comedian), and he was once the proprietor of a very disturbing Cambodian-based porn website.

Aaron Sorkin returns to TV

Is Aaron Sorkin’s magic back? Well, the verdict is still out, with mixed reviews for the screenwriter’s first new television series since his successful forays onto the big screen (“Moneyball,” “The Social Network”).  “The Newsroom,” an HBO drama on the behind-the-scenes antics of a cable news station, is set in the recent past which means plot lines can visit recent world events (for example, the first episode focuses on the BP oil spill).  The show may just need some time to mature, so it could still outperform Sorkin’s short-lived “Studio 60 on Sunset Strip.”

Mikhail Fridman invents an accolade

Mikhail Fridman and his fellow Russian Jewish philanthropists are ponying up some serious cash to create what is being touted as a "Jewish Nobel Prize." The Russian billionaire and co-founder of the five-year-old Genesis philanthropy group announced the creation of a $1 million prize that will be awarded to Jews who win global recognition for their professional achievements, including in the world of science and the arts. The prize, launched in collaboration with the Israeli government, was announced on Tuesday, which coincided with the visit of Russian president Vladimir Putin to Israel. The award will be presented annually by the Israeli prime minister around Passover time. As if the world was short on Jewish Nobel Prize winners.

Pamela Geller cries ‘kapo’

Don’t expect Pamela Geller to give to the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles any time soon. Citing security concerns, the federation canceled a scheduled talk by the right-wing blogger in its building. The planned talk was sponsored by the Zionist Organization of America, which is a federation tenant, and its topic was “Islamic Jew-Hatred: The Root Cause of the Failure to Achieve Peace.” Geller promptly took to her blog to lambaste federation officials. “Shame on our cowardly leadership for throwing one of our own under the bus,” Geller wrote. “We expect that from kapos, not from proud Jews who should hold the freedom of speech as a fundamental Jewish value.” Geller gained national attention two years ago for her loud activism against a proposed Islamic cultural center and mosque near Ground Zero. The Anti-Defamation League has alleged that Geller “fuels and fosters anti-Muslim bigotry in society.”

Recommended from JTA