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Modern Times


The Mad Mystic of Bratslav The Mad Mystic of Bratslav
Monday, November 1, 2010 by Allan Nadler | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Rabbi Nahman of Bratslav (1772-1811) is the strangest and most paradoxical leader in the history of Hasidism, and one of its most original, albeit mad, geniuses.  Nahman has been an object of both literary fascination and considerable scholarly research. He also shares center stage with Franz Kafka (1888-1924) in Rodger Kamenetz's Burnt Books.
The Azeri Exception The Azeri Exception
Friday, October 29, 2010 by Aryeh Tepper | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Someone forgot to tell the republic of Azerbaijan that Jews and Muslims cannot live together in peace. Somewhere between twenty and forty thousand Jews reside in that Shiite country, which sits on Iran's northern border and enjoys diplomatic, economic, and military ties with Israel. Can this last, and for how long?
Bi-Polar Europe Bi-Polar Europe
Tuesday, October 19, 2010 by Elliot Jager | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Last month, Western intelligence services uncovered a plot by Arab men holding European citizenship to carry out simultaneous shooting strikes in France, Germany, and Britain.  The United States apparently thwarted the attacks in a targeted killing campaign using drone aircraft against suspected Taliban- and al-Qaeda-backed terrorists along the Pakistan-Afghan border.
Let My People Go Let My People Go
Thursday, October 14, 2010 by Joshua Muravchik | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

The Soviet experiment was among the most momentous and catastrophic episodes in human history, and yet its passing went almost unnoticed. Considering that Soviet Communism was a manmade system that cost some 20 million lives directly, and perhaps another 100 million through wars and imitative experiments elsewhere, the attention paid to the events of 1989 and what led up to them has been remarkably sparse.
Rebranding Poland Rebranding Poland
Monday, September 27, 2010 by Elliot Jager | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

According to the organizers of a recent Jerusalem conference marking the 20th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Israel and Poland, the time has come for Jews to recognize the plain truth: Poland is Israel's best friend in the European Union. Moreover, they add, it is time to take a more nuanced view of Polish Jewish history altogether, to focus less single-mindedly on the killing fields implanted on Polish soil by Nazi Germany and more broadly on the preceding 1,000 years of Jewish civilization.
The Best Proletarian Novel Ever Written The Best Proletarian Novel Ever Written
Thursday, September 16, 2010 by D.G. Myers | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Comparisons between the Great Depression and current economic conditions "remain relevant," says the financial columnist Robert Samuelson—"and unsettling." Economic growth for this year's second quarter was a paltry 1.6 percent; unemployment hovers above 9.5 percent; sales of existing homes have fallen to their lowest rate in more than a decade; consumers show little sign of having recovered their confidence. At such a moment, American literature must surely be ripe for a revival of the Marxist-inspired "proletarian novel."
The Romance of Gush Etzion The Romance of Gush Etzion
Friday, September 3, 2010 by Aryeh Tepper | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

The modern return of the Jewish people to their homeland succeeded thanks to the extraordinary tenacity of pioneering individuals who, in a dangerous environment, created new communities from scratch. One such community, or rather series of communities, is the Etzion district—in Hebrew, Gush Etzion—located along the ancient mountain route between Jerusalem and Hebron. The first three communities built by Jewish settlers were completely destroyed by Arabs. The fourth still stands today.
World Jewish Congress World Jewish Congress
Monday, August 30, 2010 by Elliot Jager | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

In a show of solidarity with Israel, leaders of the World Jewish Congress (WJC) will be gathering in Jerusalem at the end of the month. Not to be confused with the American Jewish Congress, of which it was originally an outgrowth, or the World Zionist Congress, founded by Theodor Herzl, the WJC is an umbrella group of Diaspora organizations (including the European Jewish Congress, the Latin American Jewish Congress, and others) that defines itself somewhat grandly as "the diplomatic arm of the Jewish people." If you haven't heard of it, there's a reason.
It Sounds Better in Amharic It Sounds Better in Amharic
Thursday, August 26, 2010 by Aryeh Tepper | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

In his one-man play, It Sounds Better in Amharic, the Ethiopian-born Israeli actor Yossi Vassa humorously contrasts life in the old world and the new, mulling over the differences between traditional and modern ways of dating and the respective virtues of traveling by donkey or Lamborghini. He also narrates his family's 400-mile journey from Ethiopia to Sudan—from where, in 1984, the Israeli air force flew 8,000 Ethiopian Jews to Israel. Vassa's family covered the 400 miles on foot, in three months. "Not to brag," he comments, "but it took the children of Israel 40 years."
Limited Partnership Limited Partnership
Monday, August 16, 2010 by Elliot Jager | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Celebrating its Independence Day on August 15, the nation of India marked 63 years since the end of British rule in the sub-continent. In light of the two countries' more or less contemporaneous struggle for self-determination in the immediate aftermath of World War II, one might have thought that India would establish close ties with the newly born state of Israel straightaway. It did not happen.
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Editors' Picks
Mengele's Skull Thomas Keenan, Eyal Weizman, Cabinet. If the trial of Eichmann marks the beginning of the era of the witness, the exhumation of a body thought to be that of Mengele signals the inauguration of the era of forensics in international criminal justice.     
Pound Foolish John Stoehr, Forward. While Pound hailed Hitler, and Gertrude Stein cheered Franco, William Carlos Williams eschewed doctrine and orthodoxy. Herbert Leibowitz's compelling new biography of the modernist poet shows why.
Deflecting a Nuclear Iran Patrick Clawson, Washington Institute. It is not inevitable that Iran will acquire nuclear weapons: Tacti­cally, Iran's nuclear program is not yet mature. And strategically, the Islamic Republic is not a sustain­able system. (PDF)    
Japan's Inner Israel Glenn Newman, Japan Times. Both Japan and Israel rose from deprivation to prosperity in, historically speaking, the blink of an eye. But now Israel is punching far above its economic weight, while Japan can't seem to get off the mat. What happened?
Communal Table Stanley Ginsberg, Forward. What exactly are "Jewish baked goods"? The ones that come first to mind—bagels, rugelach, challah—can all be traced back to the Gentile European societies in which the Jews found themselves living at various times.
Thatcher and the Jews Charles C. Johnson, Tablet. Unlike most Tory politicians before her, the Iron Lady was a staunch defender of Jewish causes and a supporter of Israel in her political career.
"Fight Judaization!" Jonathan S. Tobin, Contentions. The tour of Arab capitals being conducted by Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh demonstrates that Hamas' goal is not only to destroy the State of Israel but to eradicate Jewish history.
Occupy Wall Street and the Jews Jonathan Neumann, Commentary. Predictably, the Occupy movement was plagued by conspiracy theories implicating Jews and Israel. Which makes the prominent Jewish involvement in the protests all the more curious and alarming.
Greatness Jennifer Lipman, Jewish Chronicle. To the Anglo-Jewish community of the 19th century, Dickens was a divisive figure, a celebrated writer but one known for his consistent use of anti-Jewish caricatures.
Are You a Hellenist? Gil Student, Torah Musings. Is a contemporary acculturated American ignoring the main theme of Hanukkah? And for that matter, how did Maimonides reconcile his devotion to Greek philosophy with the ostensible message to reject Greek ideas?