Friday Five: Scott Neiss, Joe the Plumber, Alice Walker, Daphna Poznanski-Benhamou, Shlomo Ben-David

The Friday Five

Scott Neiss is helping Israel stick it to the international competition — on the lacrosse field. On Thursday, the Israeli men’s national team opened its international tournament play with an 11-8 victory over Slovakia as part of the European Lacrosse Championship in Amsterdam. The team also notched a 13-4 win over France Friday and faces two more opponents in the preliminary round this weekend. Neiss, a 27-year-old sports management whiz with more than eight years of lacrosse management experience, laid the foundation for an Israeli national program two years ago while on a Birthright trip. Neiss began plotting the program while sneaking away from the program to meet with prospective business partners.

Back in 2008, Democrats liked to note that Joe the Plumber was not actually a licensed plumber. Now Jewish Dems are saying he’s no Holocaust expert. Joe the Plumber (aka Samuel Wurzelbacher) shot to fame when he challenged then-candidate Barack Obama on tax policy. Now Wurzelbacher is running for Congress and taking aim at the Democratic incumbent, Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), on gun control by invoking the specter of genocide. “In 1939, Germany established gun control,” Wurzelbacher said in a television ad. “From 1939 to 1945, six million Jews and seven million others unable to defend themselves were exterminated.” The National Jewish Democratic Council accused Wurzelbacher of trying to “use the Holocaust for political gain.” But Wurzelbacher is sticking to his guns and defending his ad.

Lo todah. That’s effectively how Alice Walker answered a request to publish a new Hebrew edition of her award-winning novel “The Color Purple.” Walker’s rebuke, addressed to Yediot Books, accused Israel of practicing “apartheid.” “I would so like knowing my books are read by the people of your country, especially by the young and by the brave Israeli activists (Jewish and Palestinian) for justice and peace I have had the joy of working beside,” she wrote. “I am hopeful that one day, maybe soon, this may happen. But now is not the time.” The Anti-Defamation League accused Walker of “bigotry and bias.” Walker participated last year in a pro-Palestinian flotilla that tried unsuccessfully to break the naval blockade of Gaza. Another Israeli publishing house had produced an earlier Hebrew edition of “The Color Purple.”

Daphna Poznanski-Benhamou has a very diverse constituency. A resident of Israel, Poznanski-Benhamou was elected to France’s National Assembly to represent French expatriates from eight Mediterranean countries. A dual Israeli-French citizen and member of the Socialist Party, she was elected to fill one of 11 seats in the 577-person assembly reserved for representatives of expats. She will represent French citizens living in Israel, Turkey, Greece, Italy, Malta, Cyprus, the Vatican and San Marino. “I was very warmly received in Turkey and elsewhere before and during the campaign,” said Poznanski-Benhamou, an attorney and a grandmother of three. But her defeated conservative opponent — also a dual Israeli-French citizen — won more votes in Israel.

Shlomo Ben-David is trying to pour water on accusations that could be more searing than a hot grill. He is the president of AER, which provides kosher slaughtering services at Hebrew National facilities in the Midwest. ConAgra Foods, which owns the Hebrew National brand, is targeted in a class-action lawsuit questioning the brand’s kashrut. The suit alleges that Hebrew National’s products fail to attain standards “as defined by the most stringent Jews who follow Orthodox Jewish law.” While AER is not named as a defendant in the suit, Ben-David is disputing the allegations. “The company intends to defend its reputation and good name,” he said in a statement. Hebrew National famously says it “answers to a higher authority.” Class-action lawyers, no doubt, are not the authority that the company had in mind.

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