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In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review August 26, 2004 / 9 Elul, 5764

Is ‘Reality TV’ the secret weapon in the War on Terror?

By Eric Mink

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Osama's greatest enemy: Hassan the heartthrob

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Osama bin Laden and fellow-traveling Islamist radicals believe that Western culture defiles their belief system and that unless it is stopped, it will obliterate what they regard as the one true way of life.

They're right.

Notwithstanding materialistic excess, free expression, individualism, political and spiritual independence and the pursuit of happiness — the underpinnings of Western culture — fly in the face of the hierarchical subservience and sacrifice of personal will at the core of their extreme imagining of Islam. And if unchecked, the allure and sheer volume of Western culture — most especially the broadly accessible pop-culture expressions of television, movies, music, fashion and the popular press — would undermine and overwhelm any bin-Ladian ideal of society. ("Ideal" defined as something resembling the suffocating rule of the Taliban in Afghanistan.)

But the Islamists are wrong on two fundamental points: First, this would not be a bad thing; no sensible inhabitant of Earth in 2004 regards a 10th-century lifestyle as a step forward. Second, they can no more stop this force than they can keep the sun from rising in the east. Ask the now-free people of the Czech Republic, Poland and Romania, among others, about the impact of Western culture.

A current case in point: "Superstar 2."

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While Shiite insurgents, Iraqi forces (so to speak) and American troops fight and die over shrines and cemetery slabs in Najaf, the rest of the Arab world is working itself into a delighted frenzy of expectation over the second-season finale of the Lebanese-produced TV show "Superstar 2."

This Sunday, Ammar Hassan, a 26-year-old Palestinian from the West Bank town of Salfit, and Ayman al-Atar of Libya will sing their hearts out on "Superstar 2" in the finals of a pan-Arab version of "American Idol." Millions of viewers throughout the Middle East then will choose a winner by voting via the Internet and cell-phone text messages.

This is the second season of "Superstar" (hence the "2"). It began Feb. 29 with 83 contestants — including 32 women — selected from some 40,000 applicants. A panel of judges then took a couple of months to winnow the field to 14 for final sorting by viewers.

Religious fundamentalists and terrorist groups in the Middle East have denounced "Superstar" and other reality shows being broadcast by Arab networks and satellite distributors. "These kinds of programs are in contradiction with our habits and with the principles of Islam," a Lebanese sheik told Agence France-Presse. "We are seeing youngsters kissing and expressing emotions. This is indecent."

A Palestinian spokesman for Hamas told a reporter for the Jerusalem Post, that "(we) are not in need of singers, corruption mongers and advocates of immorality."

Hamas apparently is irked that the Palestinian people seem more interested in a TV competition featuring the appealing Hassan than they are in strapping on vests packed with explosives and nails and blowing themselves up at Israeli military checkpoints. Go figure. The upcoming "Superstar 2" climax also is draining attention away from what has turned out to be a poorly timed hunger strike by Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.

The Palestinian Authority, however, is playing the situation cleverly, declaring a week of solidarity with Hassan, setting up giant outdoor viewing screens in towns in the West Bank and Gaza and persuading the major Palestinian telecommunications company to offer discounts on text-message votes sent to the show.

"People are very bored with the political and security situation," an official for the authority's Ministry of Culture told the Jerusalem newspaper. "For them, the show is an escape from the distress and frustration. We believe that creative art contributes to the people's struggle for freedom."

It is also an expression of that freedom, and its pull is powerful.

In 2003, the first season of "Superstar" became a focus for national pride in the region, even provoking some accusations — as there have been in the United States from time to time about "American Idol" — of vote rigging. Thousands of fans protested loudly in the streets of Beirut at the headquarters of Future Television, the show's producer, when Lebanese semifinalist Melhem Zein was voted out in favor of Syria's Rwqaida Attiyeh and the eventual winner, Diana Curazon of Jordan.

Zein — from Lebanon's Bekaa Valley, previously famous as the place where Hezbollah terrorists received training and sanctuary — was enormously popular with his fellow Lebanese, and problems with overloaded phone lines and Web servers only heightened suspicions of a fix. But Future Television is owned by the billionaire family of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri; the company had no rational incentive to make Zein lose. Still, public pressure persuaded Future to give Zein a three-hour solo TV special the next week and sign him to a record deal.

In Jordan, a "Superstar" fan told United Press International that the show was "a good exercise in democracy for the Arab masses." That's a stretch on both democratic and cultural grounds. "Superstar," after all, isn't exactly a Hopper canvas, a Shakespeare tragedy, "On the Waterfront," "The Sopranos" or the Gettysburg Address.

But the power of the creative spirit — even at the level of a cheesy TV talent competition — surpasses that of terrorism, war and oppression. Osama and his ilk are right to be very, very afraid.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in Washington and the media consider must-reading. Sign up for our daily update. It's free. Just click here.

Eric Mink is commentary editor for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Comment by clicking here.

© 2004, t. Louis Post-Dispatch. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.