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Modern Times

The Continuing War for Safed The Continuing War for Safed
Thursday, December 16, 2010 by Aryeh Tepper | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Safed (Hebrew: Tsfat) is a picturesque town of 32,000 souls nestled in the hills of Galilee.  It is also home to a hardline branch of the Islamic Movement looking for ways to undermine Jewish sovereignty.
Shorting History Shorting History
Tuesday, December 14, 2010 by Elliot Jager | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

English-language introductions to modern Israel are few and far between, and good ones even fewer and farther. For that reason alone, the publication of Martin van Creveld's The Land of Blood and Honey: The Rise of Modern Israel raises the hope that here, at last, is the book to recommend to anyone seeking a definitive, concise, level-headed, and well-written guide to the Jewish state.
Sin City on the Sea? Sin City on the Sea?
Thursday, December 9, 2010 by Hillel Halkin | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Tel Avivians are rubbing their eyes these days. Until lately so little thought of by the world that many tourists to Israel never bothered to visit it at all, their city is suddenly high on the places-to-be lists.
Counting Jews Counting Jews
Wednesday, December 1, 2010 by Elliot Jager | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

A newly-released World Jewish Population Report has been making waves. Some critics, especially in Israel, charge that the report, in claiming the existence of a non-Jewish majority between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, is both slanted and unduly pessimistic. Other critics, especially in the Diaspora, complain that the report is too old-fashioned in its definition of Jewishness.
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.
Taking Sides Taking Sides
Tuesday, November 23, 2010 by D.G. Myers | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

In the publisher's materials that accompany her new book, the novelist Cynthia Ozick is described as having written a "photographic negative" of Henry James's great 1903 masterpiece, The Ambassadors. Her Foreign Bodies is said to offer a "reversal of [James's] meaning." But what is her meaning?
The Brothers Lurk The Brothers Lurk
Monday, November 22, 2010 by Elliot Jager | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

November is election month not just in the United States but also in Jordan and Egypt. On November 9 Jordanians voted overwhelmingly to fill their parliament with loyalists of King Abdullah II. Egyptians will go to the polls on November 28 to elect the People's Assembly, and there is little doubt that Hosni Mubarak's ruling National Democratic party will remain in control.
A Jewish Renaissance? A Jewish Renaissance?
Monday, November 15, 2010 by Yehudah Mirsky | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

In recent years Israel has become a vast open-air laboratory for experiments in Judaism, re-fashioning rituals, reading old texts through new lenses, scrambling and fracturing familiar dichotomies between secular and religious. Secular yeshivot, mainstream performers singing medieval Hebrew hymns, non-denominational "prayer communities" in hip Tel Aviv, kabbalistic therapy movements, Judaism festivals on once-socialist kibbutzim—something is going on here, but what?
The Non-Zionist The Non-Zionist
Monday, November 8, 2010 by Yehudah Mirsky | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

The YIVO Institute in New York recently marked the 150th birthday of perhaps the most eminent among its founders: the historian and nationalist ideologue Simon Dubnow (1860-1941). Massively influential in its time, Dubnow's historical writing has been overshadowed by the work of later generations of scholars. In the meantime, the cause he championed—Diaspora Jewish nationalism—was throttled by the Holocaust.  Yet the man and his ideas may be ripe for rediscovery.
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.
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Editors' Picks
Revisiting the Reich Ron Rosenbaum, Smithsonian. William L. Shirer's 1960 history of the Third Reich remains the seminal account of the philosophical roots of Nazism and a stark warning of the dangers of mass political movements.
Cyberwar Eli Lake, Daily Beast. The Arab-Israeli conflict is normally fought with Katyusha rockets and Merkava tanks, but the conflict's latest weapon is a botnet.
Are Jews Trending Republican? Shmuel Rosner, Jewish Journal. Conservatives have often tried to convince the public that a new wave of Jewish Republicans was just around the corner. So far, they've only been disappointed—but should now watch the independents.
Changes Fred MacDowell, On the Main Line. On Orthodox liturgical reform during the 19th century, and the case of one British synagogue.
After Tal Jerusalem Post. The "melting pot" ethos, which aimed to resocialize young soldiers, has been replaced by a softer, multicultural approach—as a result of which, more Haredim have been integrated into the IDF, and more are joining.
Arendt in Jerusalem Sol Stern, City Journal. With their monumental errors of political and moral judgment, Hannah Arendt's writings on Zionism, Israel, and the Holocaust have metastasized into a destructive legacy.
The Last Resort Jordana Horn, Forward. Jews may have deserted the Catskills for the Vineyard and the Hamptons. But one of the great resorts, Kutsher's, refuses to go quietly. Meet Kutsher's Tribeca.
Minority Report Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi, Middle East Forum. The identity of Middle Eastern Christians has been shaped more by linguistic and cultural Arabization than it has by a simple desire to avoid persecution.
Why the Nazis Hated Jazz J.J. Gould, Atlantic. For one thing, there are the "Jewishly gloomy lyrics," set against the "hysterical rhythmic reverses characteristic of the barbarian races." Dig?
The Historian, the Diplomat, and the Spy Clifford D. May, National Review. Bernard Lewis, Uri Lubrani, and Meir Dagan see that disenchanted Iranians may offer the last, best hope for the Muslim world—and for winding down the global war against the West.