A Giant Scoop In My Own Backyard?

shalomy'allSo I’m perusing JTA on the off chance Madonna’s announced herself a mohel and has decided to give her new African child a bris, and instead I find little ol’ Savannah, GA smack on the “breaking news” column:

A number of prominent U.S. Jewish and Israeli leaders are attending a conference in Georgia organized by a woman who wants the Jewish temple rebuilt.

Mort Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America; Limor Livnat, a leading member of the Likud Party; Daniel Pipes, director of the Philadelphia-based Middle East Forum; and Ra’anan Gissin, a spokesman for former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon are among those slated to attend next week’s “The Convergence Summit 2006, Claims and Challenges Facing Israel.”

The Savannah Jewish Federation, Hadassah of Savannah, and Israel’s consul-general in Atlanta are among the conference’s sponsors, but other local and national groups have decried it because of organizer Orly Benny Davis’ association with extremists who want to replace the mosques on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount with the Third Temple.

Rabbi Arnold Mark Belzer, of the city’s Congregation Mickve Israel, said he would avoid it because Davis “has espoused ideas which qualify as religious extremism.” Diane Cantor, a former Savannah school board president and executive director of the liberal group Brit Tzedek v’Shalom, wrote in an Op-Ed for the Savannah Morning News that the conference “greatly concerned” her.

Man, my Jewdar needs some tweaking. I’ve passed by the JEA marquee advertising this event twenty times a day for weeks, but I just thought it was some Hadassah fundraiser to build another ORT school. I had no idea so many bigwigs would be so close by, discussing things too hot to talk about in Israel. I even missed the pre-coverage in the Savannah Morning News last Sunday.

My only hope now is to appeal directly to organizer Orly Benny Davis for a press pass on the grounds that I am the only Jewish blogger for many, many miles (although surely someone from Atlanta Jewish Life will make the ugly drive east.) Stay tuned to see if my charm and chutzpah get me into the Jewish version of the G8 summit…

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