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History & Politics

The Cosmopolitans The Cosmopolitans
Friday, November 26, 2010 by Yehudah Mirsky | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

How many flavors does Zionism come in? The usual answer is three. Naturally, the reality is more complicated than that. And, in a period when Zionism is in serious need of defending and new thinking, some scholars have been complicating it still further.
Declaring Palestinian Statehood Declaring Palestinian Statehood
Wednesday, November 24, 2010 by Aryeh Tepper | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Palestinian political figures, said to be frustrated with the pace and trajectory of peace talks with Israel, have increasingly made noises about taking matters into their own hands and unilaterally declaring a Palestinian state.
Why Rachel’s Tomb Matters Why Rachel’s Tomb Matters
Friday, November 19, 2010 by Alex Joffe | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

All cultures build on what came before them. But how they treat the past is a measure of cultures in the present. The treatment by Muslims of Rachel's tomb, lately much in the news, is a case in point.
Kadima in the Wings Kadima in the Wings
Wednesday, November 17, 2010 by Elliot Jager | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Whether or not Benjamin Netanyahu accedes to American pressure for a renewal of the construction freeze in West Bank settlements, the prospect has created roiling dissension within the prime minister's Likud party and raised the possibility of a split—or, to be more accurate, another split.
Obama and Israel: What Now? Obama and Israel: What Now?
Tuesday, November 16, 2010 by Benjamin Kerstein | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Since the Obama administration's major defeat in the American midterm elections, commentators have been wondering how the new constellation of forces in Washington will affect the president's Middle East peace initiative.
What’s Left? What’s Left?
Friday, November 12, 2010 by Elliot Jager | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Usually, when Israelis speak of Left and Right, they are differentiating mainly between security hawks and peace-camp doves—not between liberals and conservatives in general, or in the American or European sense.  By this definition, Israel's left wing is in a sorry state.
Class Divide Class Divide
Thursday, November 11, 2010 by Yehudah Mirsky | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

The world's two largest Jewish communities differ in many ways. Class is one of them. That fact was made painfully clear this week as 4,000 communal professionals, activists, and donors met in New Orleans for the general assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America—at the same time that, in Israel, the National Insurance Institute (equivalent to the U.S. Social Security Administration) issued its annual report on "poverty and social gaps" in the Jewish state.
Who’s “Right” in Israel, and Who Isn’t Who’s “Right” in Israel, and Who Isn’t
Tuesday, November 9, 2010 by Elliot Jager | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Last month, two dozen followers of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane marched on the Israeli Arab town of Umm al-Fahm, stronghold of the extremist Islamic Movement. They were making the point that Jews have the right to go anywhere in Israel. In the predictable mayhem that ensued, a dozen police were injured and ten Arab rioters were arrested. Sympathetic reports about the "mounting anger of Israel's Arab minority" made the world press, as did portrayals of the Kahanists as Israeli "right-wing activists" and "nationalists." But is that what they are?
The Warrior Rabbi The Warrior Rabbi
Friday, November 5, 2010 by Aryeh Tepper | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Praise of military virtue, prominent in the Bible, is almost non-existent in the Talmud, which, in the aftermath of the destruction of the Temple and the exile of the Jews by the Romans, either ignores wartime feats or re-interprets them as allegories of intellectual or spiritual prowess. The Talmud's relative silence on the subject would prove enduring. Until the second half of the 20th century, with few exceptions, military virtue was consistently depreciated in traditional Jewish thought.
Who is Ed Miliband, and What Does He Want? Who is Ed Miliband, and What Does He Want?
Tuesday, October 26, 2010 by Elliot Jager | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

With the Conservatives now in power in Britain, the Labor party has been sorting out not only its personnel but its policies, including toward Israel and the Middle East. In his campaign for the party's leadership, in which he narrowly edged out his brother David, Ed Miliband pledged to visit the area to see first-hand "what is happening on the ground."
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Editors' Picks
Communist Colluders Anne Applebaum, Jewish Chronicle. After World War II, East European Communist parties sought to burnish their image as nationalist patriots.  How did they do it?  Anti-Semitism, of course.
Saddam and the Missed Opportunity Mitch Ginsburg, Times of Israel. In the mid-1970s, Israel tried to kill Saddam Hussein with a letter bomb.  Imagine the blood and treasure that would have been saved if the attempt had succeeded.
The Great War's Jewish Soldiers Naomi Sandweiss, Tablet. Military service in the First World War marked the entry of many Jewish immigrants into wider society; but for those in the Jewish Legion, it also represented Zionism's first military victory.
The Hunting of the Moles , Spiegel. The post-war West German government developed an extensive network of informants to counter far-Right extremism.  They may have done precisely the opposite.
Archeology Under Attack Christopher Torchia, Times of Israel. After a 90-year closure, the Turks have allowed archeological excavations near the Syrian border at Karkemish, site of a major biblical battle.  But now another battle threatens the site. 
Obama's Foreign Policy Cliff Mark Landler, New York Times. With crises in Syria, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, Obama faces national security threats across the Middle East; but his top priority will be Iran's nuclear program. 
So Long, Lieberman Joseph Lieberman, New York Times. In his exit interview, the retiring U.S. senator says he is"taking a sabbatical from elective partisan politics"—which might "go on for the rest of my life." (Interview by Mark Leibovich)
The Fuhrer Was Not Amused Nigel Jones, Spectator. From average Germans to Jews in concentration camps, gallows humor was one of the few weapons of resistance against the Third Reich.  So, Hitler tried mightily to repress it.
Whose Paradise? Oded Zinger, Geniza Blues. Among medieval Muslims, Damascus was famed for its fountains, fruits, and gardens.  But among medieval Jews, it was famed for the Jewish community’s piety.  
Never Mind Jerusalem; What About Mecca? Damian Thompson, Telegraph. The Muslim world is apoplectic about harmless Israeli excavations on the Temple Mount—but when the House of Saud bulldozes Islam’s holiest sites in its holiest city, no one says a word.