Friday Five: Jesse Heiman, Sara Netanyahu, Hila Ben Baruch, Bruce Wexler and Tsvetan Tsvetanov


Jesse Heiman’s super smooch

It ain’t easy being a chubby nerd with an Afro and rosy cheeks. That’s why some Super Bowl viewers cheered when Jesse Heiman, who fits the description to a T, locked lips with Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli for a prolonged smooch in a GoDaddy commercial during the big game. Heiman, who previously had bit parts in a few films and TV shows, became an overnight sensation, even drawing an offer to appear in a porn film of his choosing. Heiman reportedly responded that he’s holding out for Playgirl.

Sara Netanyahu struts her stuff

The focus was supposed to be on the new parliament members when Israel’s 19th Knesset was sworn in on Tuesday. Instead the buzz was about Sara Netanyahu, the wife of the prime minister, who showed up wearing a sheer lace dress that didn’t leave enough to the imagination. Pundits and fashion critics were quick to pounce, skewering both the first lady’s fashion instincts and her sense of propriety. But some smelled sexism in the air, noting that male politicians are rarely subject to that kind of sartorial scrutiny — though that almost surely would change if a guy showed up wearing Mrs. Netanyahu’s dress.


Hila Ben Baruch’s tale of the tape

Here’s a prime example of an illegitimate parking violation: Hila Ben Baruch parked her car on a Tel Aviv street, city workers showed up and drew an outline of a handicapped parking spot around her car — then they towed the car. Fortunately for Ben Baruch, the episode was caught on video. The city apologized.

Bruce Wexler is caught in the middle

Bruce Wexler, a Yale University psychiatry professor, tried to apply the scientific method to a political issue with his three-year academic study of Palestinian and Israeli textbooks. When he found vice and virtue on both sides and commended Israelis and Palestinians for not demonizing one another, Wexler undercut one of the central elements of the official Israeli narrative that holds Palestinians are educating their children to hate. Israeli government officials immediately went on the attack, accusing Wexler and his team of bias and calling them “unprofessional.” The Palestinians welcomed the report. Wexler called the reaction to his work “shocking.”

Tsvetan Tsvetanov gets on Hezbollah’s case

Bulgarian Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov’s announcement this week that Hezbollah was behind the July attack that killed five Israeli tourists and a Bulgarian national has wide ramifications. Bulgaria already has ratcheted up the pressure on the European Union to brand Hezbollah a terrorist organization, potentially shutting down the Lebanese group’s extensive fundraising activities on the continent. Jewish groups are clamoring for such a change, but analysts say political considerations — not Bulgaria’s investigation — will determine the EU response.

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