Friday Five: Edmond Levy, Ellie Goulding, Greg Schneider, Rob Eshman, Ehud Olmert



Levy says ‘This land is my land’

Former Israeli Supreme Court Justice Edmond Levy had his place in history as the presiding judge in the murder conviction case of Yigal Amir, Yitzhak Rabin’s assassin. But this week he added to it when the Levy Committee, which he chaired, issued a report saying “Israel does not meet the criteria of ‘military occupation’ as defined under international law” in the West Bank, and that settlements and outposts there are legal. The committee, set up at the request of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, recommends changing the regulations for Jewish settlements regarding zoning, demolitions and building, and calls for the legalization of all outposts. The findings are subject to the review and approval of Israeli Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein.  Neither Israeli President Shimon Peres nor U.S. President Barack Obama were pleased.

Ellie Goulding has a hit single

The latest British invader is Jewish. That doesn’t make Ellie Goulding, the singer-songwriter whose “Lights” reached No. 5 this week on the U.S. charts, unique. Amy Winehouse still looms large in the American heart, and Britain has been exporting trilling tribesmen at least since Anthony Newley in the 1950s. But Goulding, 25, eschews the American accent many of her countrymen affect when singing, and indulges her broad Midlands vowels. She plays the drums, and she dared to cover Elton John’s “Your Song” when she sang the first dance at last year’s royal wedding for Will and Kate (with John present!). Her hard driving “Lights,” a song about fear of the unknown tinged with erotic longing, has generated much web-musing about its meaning: Is it about aliens? Is it about God? She says it’s just about her childhood fear of the dark.

Greg Schneider: Show me the money!

This was a good week for Claims Conference chief Greg Schneider. On Monday, he and his negotiating team, headed by former U.S. Undersecretary of State Stuart Eizenstat, got Germany to agree to $300 million worth of new Holocaust reparations, the bulk of it for 80,000 Nazi victims in Ukraine and Russia who never before had qualified for restitution payments. On Tuesday, Schneider hosted an event at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum marking the 60th anniversary of the original Holocaust restitution accord, the 1952 Luxembourg Agreement. And on Wednesday, the Claims Conference board announced $272 million in new allocations for the next two years, then went to lunch with several members of Congress. They’re all signs that Schneider is not letting the $57 million fraud scheme first discovered at the Claims Conference in late 2009 hamper the organization’s core mission: getting more aid to survivors.

Rob Eshman wants Woody Allen in Israel

Lights, camera, falafel, Woody Allen? Rob Eshman — editor and publisher of the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles — kicked off an $18 million fundraising campaign this week in the hopes of enticing the iconic director to shoot his next film in Israel. Eshman thinks that if successful, such a film “will enable Israel to enter the world’s imagination in a way a billion dollars of hasbara [public relations] couldn’t possibly buy.” By August 23, Eshman hopes to raise the first half through public online donations. If he does, he says he’s confident that he can find a big Hollywood name to cover the rest. (Steven Spielberg, are you home?) Allen, who has recently filmed in London, Barcelona, Paris and Rome, hasn’t yet responded publicly to the campaign, but he did tell Yediot that a first-time visit to Israel could be in his future.

Ehud Olmert’s not running – yet

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, basking in the glow of his acquittal on the most serious corruption charges levied against him, said he will not return to politics. But he might qualify that with a “yet.” Olmert, exonerated this week on the corruption charges that led to his resignation four years ago, was convicted on a lesser charge of breach of trust. He will appeal. In Tel Aviv on Thursday, he said he would not return to politics and reaffirmed his commitment to the Kadima Party. But on the eve of his acquittal, Haaretz reported that Olmert told associates that he would return to politics and run again for prime minister. He still faces a bribery indictment regarding the construction of the Holyland apartment project in Jerusalem, dating back to when he was mayor of the city and then minister of trade and industry.

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