Friday Follies: Gladiator Says Bris Is Barbaric; Spock’s Peace Plan

Friday Follies: Gladiator Says Bris Is Barbaric; Spock’s Peace Plan

Another famous person is sending out controversial, male-genital-related tweets. Oscar winning actor Russel Crowe, in response to a fan’s question, denounced circumcision as "barbaric and stupid. Who are you to correct nature?" Leaving aside that millions of people circumcise their sons for health rather than religious reasons, Crowe added: "Is it real that GOD requires a donation of foreskin?"

You can read the full progression of his tweets here, although some have reportedly been deleted, including the one where he professed his love for Jews, with whom he associates "apples and honey and funny hats."

I was disappointed by this, not only as someone who dips apples in honey at the appropriate time of year and occasionally wears one of those funny hats, but also because I found Crowe’s humble 2001 Oscar acceptance speech (for "Gladiator") to be very inspiring. Because of that, I tried, I honestly did, not to comment on the irony of the guy who was arrested for throwing his phone in someone’s face lecturing about what’s barbaric.

The ADL’s Abe Foxman found the "funny hats" rejoinder worse than the initial opinion about circumscision and in an interview lamented how poorly thought-out comments can so quickly spread around the world via social media . "It’s a disease out there," he said. "It enhances the diarhea of the mouth … He’s entitled to his view about circumcision, but through the modern miracle of communication he has a platform, a megaphone and his opinion happens to play into a political sitiuation in San Francisco" where voters will decide whether to ban circumscision in a controversial referendum.

While the opposition to circumcision isn’t necessarily bigoted, he said, the "funny hats" line crosses the border.

In his most recent Tweets today Crowe (perhaps after some calls from his agent and publicist) said " I have a deep and abiding love for all people of all nationalities, I’m very sorry that I have said things on here that have caused distress" and "My personal beliefs aside I realize that some will interpret this debate as me mocking the rituals and traditions of others. I am very sorry "


Another celebrity weighing in on a serious topic is Leonard Nimoy, who not only made the cohanic hand gesture instantly recognizable around the world but also gave us the very nice, Jewish-y greeting of "Live long and prosper."

As JTA first reported, the Star Trek actor, 80, has written an open letter to raise funds for Americans for Peace Now, espousing the merits of a two-state settlement of the Israeli Palestinian conflict. He even cites an episode of the original Trek series that involved a seemingly eternal conflict between two races who are both half black and half white, but on opposite sides. But he insists he is not trying to "belittle the very real issues that dvide Israelis and Palestinians." In a further appeal to Star Trek fans, apparently viewed by AFPN as a generous demographic, Nimoy adds that mkaing your tax deductible contribution to the group is "the logical thing to do."

Nimoy has long struggled with typecasting, about which he wrote extensively in two memoirs, "I am not Spock" and "I am Spock," and his alterego battle mirrows the identity crisis of the half-human/half alien Spock. Having played his character longer and in more incarnations than any other actor from the 60’s show (including spinoffs and the most recent JJ Abrams "reboot" movie), he seems to have fallen into a comfort zone of embracing the character’s cerebral nature while avoiding the 60s TV camp. He’s spoken out about the Jewish aspects of Star Trek and tried to break into art with a book of naked women wearing tefillin. This seems to be his first attempt to use Spock’s wisdom (the character served as diplomat to the Romulans in later appearances) to espouse a political cause.

He may want to reach out to some Palestinians for Peace Now, too, though. A recent poll found that barely half of the Palestinians support a two-state solution. And then there’s the absence from the peace talks, and those nasty rockets from Gaza.


As Weiner-gate enters Week 3, the embattled congressman has an unlikely ally in Alec Baldwin, who in his Huffington Post column suggests the lusty legislator was just looking for diversion from his stressful life. Maybe he’s trying to lower expectations to pave the way for his anticipated political career. Baldwin’s backing comes in addition to the 53 percent of Weiner constituents who think he should not have to resign (while leaving their options open for the 2012 election.)

One person who can’t be accused of hypocrisy, former congressman Mark Foley, who knows a thing or two about lewd message scandals, thinks Weiner can get his life in order quicker if he resigns, as Foley did. Another backer: the last Democrat who ignored everyone’s calls to resign. In perhaps the most compassionate piece written about Weiner so far, Sarakay Smullens, also on the HuffPo, says people with Weiner’s "very common" addiction are "Very intelligent and gifted with the abilities to truly empathize with those who suffer, as well as an aptitude for tireless work."


This last item is courtesy of Mr. Foxman, who brought it up in our earlier conversation. He is perturbed that the European basketball league, FIBA, will not allow an observant Israeli player, Naama Shafir, to wear a t-shirt under her uniform while competing in an upcoming tournament.

The decision is final, a spokesman for the league told the AP, since all teams must be uniformly dressed. Shafir, a 21-year-old point guard from the University of Toledo, who also plays for Israel’s national team, will — in the spirit of Sandy Koufax — sit out the tournament in Poland on June 18.

"As long as it doesn’t interfere with the game, why would a person’s religious values be of concern?" asked the ADL leader.

The AP report said Shafir’s Toledo teammates have accommodated her Sabbath observance. Wouldn’t it be inspiring if other players in the tournament showed unity by showing up "uniformly dressed" with t-shirts under their uniforms?

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