A New Television Series about Jews Falls Back on Tired Stereotypes

Based on a novel of the same name by the Jewish journalist Taffy Brodesser-Akner, Fleishman Is in Trouble is a story about the titular Toby Fleishman’s recent divorce from his wife, set in Manhattan’s Upper East Side. The title character and his wife are evidently Jewish, and Jewish actors—including Jesse Eisenberg as Fleishman—play major roles. To Akiva Schick, the series fails as a whole despite what he sees as the merit of the source material. It also fails more specifically as television about Jews:

As in the novel, Toby isn’t so much stressed out by the moment, but rather perpetually wound tight. (Eisenberg delivers his lines in a clipped, highly caffeinated rhythm reminiscent of Woody Allen.) Toby’s character is certainly a stereotype—neurotic Jewish doctor—and Eisenberg plays it well. It’s an excellent performance, but also a disappointing one. Surely all the Jewish talent in the show could have come together to create a fresher take on the Jewish masculinity that it’s parodying—or a fresher take on the Jewish anything, really. In a show that has been praised for its Jewishness, the cultural and religious Jewish content is actually scant.

And although Schick thinks of the well of the novel, he suggests that reviewers’ characterizations of Brodesser-Akner as “a kind of female Philip Roth” stem as much from the skill and wit of her narration as from “well-named secular Jewish characters, and all the sex.”

Read more at Jewish Review of Books

More about: American Jewry, Philip Roth, Television


The U.S. Is Trying to Seduce Israel into Accepting a Bad Deal with Iran. Israel Should Say No

Last week, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) released its quarterly report on the Iranian nuclear program. According to an analysis by the Institute for Science and International Security, the Islamic Republic can now produce enough weapons-grade uranium to manufacture “five nuclear weapons in one month, seven in two months, and a total of eight in three months.” The IAEA also has reason to believe that Tehran has further nuclear capabilities that it has successfully hidden from inspectors. David M. Weinberg is concerned about Washington’s response:

Believe it or not, the Biden administration apparently is once again offering the mullahs of Tehran a sweetheart deal: the release of $10 billion or more in frozen Iranian assets and clemency for Iran’s near-breakout nuclear advances of recent years, in exchange for Iranian release of American hostages and warmed-over pious Iranian pledges to freeze the Shiite atomic-bomb program.

This month, intelligence photos showed Iran again digging tunnels at its Natanz nuclear site—supposedly deep enough to withstand an American or Israeli military strike. This tells us that Iran has something to hide, a clear sign that it has not given up on its quest for a nuclear bomb.

Meanwhile, Antony Blinken today completes a three-day visit to Saudi Arabia, where he is reportedly pressing the kingdom to enter the Abraham Accords. This is no coincidence, for reasons Weinberg explains:

Washington expects Israeli acquiescence in the emerging U.S. surrender to Iran in exchange for a series of other things important to Israel. These include U.S. backing for Israel against escalated Palestinian assaults expected this fall in UN forums, toning down U.S. criticism regarding settlement and security matters (at a time when the IDF is going to have to intensify its anti-terrorist operations in Judea and Samaria), an easing of U.S. pressures on Israel in connection with domestic matters (like judicial reform), a warm Washington visit for Prime Minister Netanyahu (which is not just a political concession but is rather critical to Israel’s overall deterrent posture), and most of all, significant American moves towards reconciliation with Saudi Arabia (which is critical to driving a breakthrough in Israeli-Saudi ties).

[But] even an expensive package of U.S. “concessions” to Saudi Arabia will not truly compensate for U.S. capitulation to Iran (something we know from experience will only embolden the hegemonic ambitions of the mullahs). And this capitulation will make it more difficult for the Saudis to embrace Israel publicly.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Antony Blinken, Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Saudi Arabia, U.S.-Israel relationship