Jews in the News: Chase Priskie, Jenny Slate and Carole King

I Barely Watched the Olympics; Revenge Rom-Com; Carole King & Her All-Kosher Backing Band

I didn’t watch much of the Beijing Olympic Games. Mostly just clips. Holocaust-related recent news stories cemented my feelings.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is a notoriously corrupt organization and it knew that China was not likely to turn into a democracy or stop persecuting its citizens when they awarded the 2022 Games to China in 2015.  But that didn’t stop them.

When Nazi Germany hosted the 1936 Olympics, the IOC at least had the weak excuse that the 1936 Winter and Summer Games were awarded to Germany in 1931, when Germany was still a democracy.

Before 1936, no non-democratic country hosted an Olympics Games and the stench of “Hitler’s Olympics” seemed strong enough that the Games would never go to a non-democratic country again. 

This assumption ended in 1974 when the undemocratic Soviet Union was awarded the 1980 Summer Games. The Soviets made it easy on the “Western conscience” by invading Afghanistan in 1979. The invasion led 66 countries to boycott the Moscow Games and they are largely forgotten.

The IOC couldn’t “stay clean”. It gave authoritarian China the 2008 Summer Games. In fairness, there was a weak, if plausible excuse--- many still thought that China would evolve into a more democratic country.

Any illusions about the IOC vanished when Russia was awarded the 2014 Winter Olympics. Russia got the Games despite “everybody knowing” that Putin had, step-by-step, turned the country into an increasingly repressive dictatorship. During the 2014 Games, Russia portrayed itself as “a nice place.” This mirrored Nazi Germany, which eased up its public persecution of German Jews just before, and during the 1936 Games.

Weeks after 2014 Games ended, Russia invaded the Crimea, a part of Ukraine, and annexed it. In 2016, it was revealed that Russia had given performance-enhancing drugs to most of its athletes—something no democracy would try—and the IOC slapped Russia’s wrists. Now the speculation is that Putin is waiting for the Beijing Winter Games to end before invading Ukraine.

Since 2008, China has morphed into a much more repressive society under the leadership of Xi Jinping.  This has led Israeli human rights activist NATAN SHARANSKY, French writer BERNARD-HENRI LEVY, and ELISHA WIESEL (ELIE WIESEL’s son), to take a full-page ad out in the NY Times (Jan. 31) asking athletes and supporting corporations to walk away from the Games until China stops its quasi-genocidal treatment of the Urghur Muslim minority.

A ”walk-away” didn't happen. But the newspaper ad and other protests did get NBC. which paid billions for the Olympic TV rights, to at least cover China's human rights violations in-depth during the opening ceremonies. Just before the Games started, it was widely reported in good sources that NBC would concentrate almost entirely on the athletes and barely mention China at all. It appears that NBC was shamed into doing "something".

The good news in winter sports is that the most recent issue of "Jewish Sports Review" reports that 10 Jews are playing in the NHL this year. This is the first time I can recall that there is a “minyan” of Jews in a major pro sport.

Please check on-line for more player details than I can fit in here. Here’s the list: JAKOB CHYRCHRUN, defenseman, Arizona; ADAM FOX, defenseman, NY Rangers; MARK FRIEDMAN, defenseman, Pittsburgh; JACK HUGHES, center, NJ Devils; Quinn Hughes (Jack’s brother), defenseman, Vancouver; ZACH HYMAN, center, Edmonton; LUKE KUNIN, center, Nashville; CHASE PRISKIE, defenseman, Florida Panthers; NATE THOMPSON, center, Philadelphia; JAKE WALMAN, defenseman, St. Louis; and JASON ZUCKER, defenseman, Pittsburgh.

“I Want You Back” is an original Amazon Prime romantic comedy film that will premiere on Feb. 11. Capsule plot: Peter (Charlie Day) and Emma (JENNY SLATE, 39) are strangers who bond over the fact that they have just been dumped by their respective partners. Their relationship begins as a “misery loves company thing”. But it morphs into a “revenge” thing when they discover their former partners are in happy new romances.

On Feb. 10, HBO will begin streaming “Just Call Out My Name”. This documentary follows CAROLE KING and James Taylor’s 2010 “Troubadour Tour” and it features clips from the tour and interviews with King and Taylor about their long history of musical collaboration. Also interviewed are guitarist DANNY KORTCHMAR, 75, drummer RUSS KUNKEL, 73, and bassist LEE SKLAR, 74. These great rock musicians played behind the duo during all their shows (from 1970-2010).  Sidenote: Kunkel’s first wife, LEAH COHEN, now 73, was the sister of “Mama” CASS ELIOTT of “The Mamas and Papas” fame. After Cass’s sudden death in 1974, they raised her then 7-year-old daughter.


Add Comment