The JW Q&A

A weekly interview with notable figures and names in the news.

Giving NY Jazz A Mideast Accent

Calendar Editor

Much like real estate, security and sales of holiday knick-knacks, New York’s jazz scene has acquired an unmistakable Israeli accent — so much so that JazzTimes magazine stated that “no foreign country’s citizens are playing a more visible or essential role on the New York scene these days.” How did this happen? Acclaimed bassist and composer Omer Avital was among the first wave of Israelis to land here in the early 1990s. The Jewish Week caught up with him last week fresh off a gig at the Jazz Standard, which marked the release of his new CD, “New Song” (Motema Music). This is an edited transcript.

Bassist Omer Avital: Stretching jazz’s boundaries. Courtesy of Red Cat Publicity

Tourism Going Well, But ‘Not Back To Normal’

Staff Writer

Uzi Landau, who has served as the Israeli minister of tourism since March 2013, has been in Israeli politics for almost three decades, since 1984. He started in 1984 and announced Dec. 28 that he plans to retire from politics. A former senior member of Likud and now a member of the nationalist Israel Beiteinu party, Landau, 71, has served as minister of public security, a member of the security cabinet, and a minister in the prime minister’s office overseeing Israeli intelligence, secret services and the U.S.-Israel strategic dialogue. The Jewish Week caught up with him after his recent trip to the United States. This is an edited transcript.

Tourism Minister Uzi Landau: Bookings “starting to pick up again” after Gaza war.

Taking America’s Pulse On Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Staff Writer

Shibley Telhami is the Anwar Sadat Professor for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland, College Park, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. An American of Israeli Arab heritage who moved to the United States at the age of 19, Telhami earned his doctorate in political science at the University of California at Berkeley and taught at such universities as Cornell, Princeton and Columbia. He has served as adviser to the U.S. Mission to the United Nations and was a member of the U.S. delegation to the Trilateral U.S.

Shibley Telhami: Two-state solution seen as less “realistic” these days.

Ari Shavit’s ‘Plan B’ For Mideast Peace

Special To The Jewish Week

In the wake of the synagogue attack last month in Har Nof that left four rabbis and a Druze police officer dead, author Ari Shavit jumped into the peace-plan fray.

Shavit: “Step-by-step” approach to peace. Sharon Bareket

Keeping An Eye On PA Hate Messaging

Staff Writer

Itamar Marcus is director of Palestinian Media Watch, a nonprofit that examines Palestinian ideology and policy. He founded it in 1996, and three years later the Israeli government appointed him its representative in negotiations with the Palestinian Authority on incitement. Born in New York and now a resident of Efrat on the West Bank, he was interviewed here while on a speaking tour for the pro-Israel group StandWithUs. This is an edited transcript.

Itamar Marcus: Monitoring the Palestinian media indicates what will happen on the Palestinian “street.”

Contemporary Pilgrims’ Progress

Staff Writer

Bestselling author, New York Times columnist, writer-host on PBS, Bruce Feiler is back at what he does best — traveling the world looking for a spiritual message, then sharing the results. “Sacred Journeys,” a six-part series that documents the paths of “contemporary pilgrims,” premieres on PBS on Dec. 16. Feiler spoke with The Jewish Week by email. This is an edited transcript of the interview.

Bruce Feiler: Brings his worldwide pilgrimages to PBS audience. Via

The Line Between Anti-Israel And Anti-Semitic

Professor Phyllis Chesler says anti-Semitism is no longer viewed as racism, but as politically correct.

Staff Writer

Phyllis Chesler, a retired professor of psychology and women’s studies at City University, has since 9/11 focused on anti-Semitism and the demonization of Israel. She is a best-selling author and feminist who has just updated her 2003 book, “The New Anti-Semitism” (Gefen Publishing). She is a co-founder of the International Committee for Women of the Wall and a fellow at both the Middle East Forum and at the Institute for the Study of Global Anti-Semitism and Policy. This is an edited transcript.

Phyllis Chesler: Anti-Semitism is now “politically correct.” Joan Roth

Challenging Teens To ‘Slam’ Poverty

Staff Writer

Poetry slam, sure. But poverty slam?

Borrowing a phrase from the spoken-word contests where verse-makers recite original poems before a panel of judges, UJA-Federation of New York is trying to spark teens’ interest in combating rising levels of poverty here.

Two of the poverty slammers at last week’s event. Courtesy of UJA-Federation

Trying To Make Vegetables Sexy


Janna Gur’s “The Book of New Israeli Food” has sat on my kitchen counter with my other favorite cookbooks for years, and I frequently pull it out for friends and family who are unfamiliar with Israeli cuisine, saying, “This is the book you need to buy to understand food in Israel.”

Janna Gur: “For us, vegetables are not a punishment, they are something exciting.” JTA

Coming To Terms With ‘Reality’ Of Jerusalem

Expert on Israeli-Palestinian relations analyzes rising tensions in the City of Gold.

Staff Writer

Daniel “Danny” Seidemann is founder and director of Terrestrial Jerusalem, a non-governmental organization launched in January 2010 that monitors Israeli-Palestinian relations in Jerusalem. Regarded as a leading expert on contemporary Jerusalem, he was born in upstate Syracuse and made aliyah in 1973. A lawyer, he was interviewed by phone from his home in Jerusalem. This is an edited transcript.

Terrestrial Jerusalem’s Daniel Seidmann: Jerusalem not a united city.
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