Hamas claims responsibility for firing rockets at Israel

Hamas has claimed responsibility for firing 10 long-range missiles into southern Israel.

Hamas said Tuesday evening that its armed wing, Izzaddin al-Kassam, fired 10 Grad missiles into Israel in the afternoon. At least 40 rockets fired from Gaza struck southern Israel on Tuesday.

Hamas also took responsibility for firing several rockets late Monday night that landed in Ashkelon but did not cause any damage or injuries. The Palestinian Ma’an news agency reported that the rockets were targeting a nearby military base. Hamas controls the Gaza Strip.

Following the attack, the Israeli Air Force fired early Tuesday morning on what it called a terrorist cell planting explosives near Israel’s border with Gaza. Ma’an reported that two 16-year-old boys were killed in the strike.

At least 40 rockets have been fired into southern Israel from Gaza on Tuesday, the Israel Defense Forces said. Residents of communities near the Gaza border have been put on high alert and told to stay close to bomb shelters.

The attacks followed an escalating series of cross-border attacks Monday between Israel and alleged Palestinian terrorists in which four Palestinians were killed.

On Monday evening, two Palestinians were killed in an Israeli airstrike on what the military said was a terrorist rocket-launching squad. The strike came after two rockets were launched from Gaza and landed in southern Israel, causing no injuries or damage.

On Monday morning, Israel’s Air Force fired on what it called a terrorist squad of snipers operating near the security fence in the northern Gaza Strip.

Two Palestinian men were killed and four were injured in the earlier Monday strikes, according to the Ma’an news service, which identified the casualties, in their 20s, as members of Islamic Jihad’s military wing, the Al-Quds Brigades. Ma’an said they were “en route to take part in a militant operation” against Israeli soldiers.

The IDF said in a statement that the squad killed in Monday morning’s action was among those responsible for recent sniper attacks along Israel’s security fence with Gaza, including one late last week in which snipers fired on an Israeli farmer working in his fields near Kibbutz Nir Oz in southern Israel.

Military sources said the incident was not related to Monday’s attack on the Israel-Egypt border in which one civilian was killed and two terrorists shot dead.

Overnight Sunday, Israeli aircraft hit what the military said was a weapons manufacturing facility in southern Gaza and a terror activity site in central Gaza. Five Palestinians, including a woman and child, were injured in the attacks.

The sites were targeted in response to the rocket fire toward southern Israel, the IDF said. This year, more than 275 rockets have been fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip, Israel’s military said.

‘Heeb’ goes Hollywood

For Josh Neuman, publisher of Heeb magazine, there are two cities in America: New York and Los Angeles-and “all that s— in the middle,” which he’s just not interested in.

One glance at the eclectic scene populating Heeb’s Hollywood Issue launch party last week at the bourgeois/hippie clothing store, Von Dutch, and it’s easy to see why: Where else in the country would a “Jewish” party comprise everyone from spiky-haired hipsters to artsy bohemians to religious men in yarmulkes crushing together in a parking lot?

It looked like a weird cross-section of disco-pop, grunge and glam, which fits in rather nicely with Heeb’s carefully cultivated image of “Jewish” that — by Heeb standards — means virtually anything.

To celebrate the release of its Spring 2008 issue, a triumphal ode to Hollywood, Heeb absconded from its home in New York and ventured to the heart of Tinseltown, where Neuman has plans to expand the brand into a lifestyle empire.

When Heeb was introduced in 2002 as an irreverent, secular, tongue-in-cheek quarterly, it spawned a movement of in-your-face Judaism for disaffected urban intellectuals in their 20s and 30s. Five years ago, it was all the rage in New York, but when founder Jennifer Bleyer left in 2003, disillusioned that she had created a magazine whose central message was “Jewish is cool,” Heeb found itself at a crossroads.

Now, with its niche in New York and its image in question, one might wonder what sort of influence the Heeb group hopes to have in Los Angeles, a city where image is everything, but that, Neuman believes, has the potential to catapult the magazine from its current plateau.

Dressed in designer jeans and a cashmere hoodie, Neuman looked a bit worn out as he schmoozed his way through the party crowd, unsmiling but interested, passing out magazines and plugging his new plans.

“If we sneeze in New York, it’s news,” he said with a nonchalance that suggests he’s already melding into the L.A. vibe. “Here, nobody knows us.”

Maybe most people here don’t know them yet, but Heeb somehow managed to attract the right ingredients for a Hollywood debut: The current issue’s cover boy, Jason Segal, who plays the lead role in the Judd Apatow production “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” which he also wrote, joined a decent-sized crowd that seemed not so Jewish as much as a multiethnic hodgepodge of Jews, Asian Americans and African Americans — as if to say being part of any minority makes one Jewish enough.

The edginess of the scene is echoed in Heeb’s pages, an issue besotted with provocative content: The text bristles with sarcastic sassiness, the photos are wacky and theatrical, and the overall tone is as smart-alecky as its concept is subversive.

In it, Segal candidly discusses his soon-to-be immortalized genitals, thanks to a full-frontal breakup scene in the film; another feature, “David vs. Goliath: The Struggle of Christian Films in the Post-Passion Era,” investigates why the success of Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” led to a tapering off of Christian-themed blockbusters; “Harold and Kumar” creators Hayden Schlossberg and Jon Hurwitz are also profiled and are portrayed not as stoners, but as “self-effacing Jewish guys from New Jersey.”

Both scandalous and sublime, Heeb’s unabashed glorification of tribalism already reeks of Hollywood self-satisfaction.

They should fit in here just fine.

Welcome to Los Angeles.

East Meets West

About six months ago, Gregory Rodriguez, a contributingeditor to the Los Angeles Times opinion section, phoned his friend, Rabbi GaryGreenebaum, West Coast regional director of the American Jewish Committee (AJCommittee). Rodriguez had attended events purported to promote intellectualfellowship among diverse Angelenos, but had found them not-so-diverse. “There’sa lot of lip service paid to crossing barriers in this city, but manygatherings are organized around political or ethnic lines,” Rodriguez said.

To mix things up a bit, the two friends went on to launch aprogram, co-presented by the Los Angeles Public Library. The series, Zócalo,which means “public square” in Spanish, will gather Eastsiders and Westsidersfor private discussions and public lectures on crucial civic issues. It kicksoff at the downtown Central Library’s Mark Taper Auditorium on April 9 at 7p.m., when the Economist’s Washington correspondent Adrian Wooldridge,co-author of “The Company: A Short History of a Revolutionary Idea,” willdescribe his take on the corporation as “an engine that can work for the publicgood as well as ill,” Greenebaum said.

Four more speakers through July will include the preeminentAfrican American essayist Debra Dickerson and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, theOscar-nominated director of “Amores Perros.”

The series joins a burgeoning trend of L.A. programs devotedto the intellectual life, from Lunchtime Art Talks at the UCLA Hammer Museum tothe literary salon Beyond Baroque.

“But we don’t want to be labeled a salon,” Rodriguez said.”We want to create a nonpartisan, multiethnic place in a city that has fewneutral, welcoming places.”

Like Zócalo, its conveners represent East and West LosAngeles. Rodriguez, 36, is a Mexican American who lives in a Northeastneighborhood, Hermon, near Highland Park. Greenebaum, who is in his 50s,promotes intergroup relations through the regional office of the AJCommittee,located in West L.A. The two men met when Rodriguez interviewed Greenebaum fora piece that touched on Latino-Jewish relations several years ago.

They’re hoping Zócalo — sponsored by groups as varied as TheJewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles and Citibank — will introduce Angelenoswho wouldn’t normally meet. “A group devoted to fostering fellowship and newideas will be a powerful contribution to the new L.A.,” Rodriguez said. 

For information about Zócalo events, which will be broadcastover KPCC 89.3 FM, call (213) 228-7025.

Four for Chanukah

When the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles celebrated the launch of its anti-illiteracy program KOREH Los Angeles in September, the focus was on educators and celebrities to read children’s books to kids. Meanwhile, on the outskirts of the spotlight at that event were some local women who are equally vital in the campaign against illiteracy: the creators of the children’s books themselves.

Nancy Smiler Levinson, Sonya Levitin, Joanne Rocklin and Erica Silverman are all award-winning authors behind some of the books that line the shelves of our nation’s classrooms and libraries.

With Chanukah upon us, the Journal spoke with them (all old friends) and discovered four distinct voices whose nexus is an appreciation for family, a passion for storytelling, and a shared sense of their Jewish roots.