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Modern Times

Some Things Never Go Away Some Things Never Go Away
Monday, January 4, 2010 | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Nine years ago, according to recent reports in the Israeli media, the head of the country's leading forensic institute admitted to having transplanted tissues and organs—corneas, skin, heart valves, and bones—from deceased Jews, Palestinians, and foreign workers. It seems that the families of the decedents, while consenting to autopsies, had not consented to transplants. The practice was halted and the physician dismissed from his post. Old news, then. But the exact nature of the doctor's past actions, limited if clearly unethical, was lost in the furor aroused by the surfacing of this old news in late December. In Britain, the Guardian...
Emancipation & Its Discontents Emancipation & Its Discontents
Monday, December 14, 2009 | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

“One day [Jews are] being completely segregated, [and the] next thing you know, Napoleon comes through town, tears down the ghetto gates, and we can do whatever we like, sort of.” Thus the author Michael Goldfarb, describing the thesis of his recently published book, Emancipation. Especially in the cases of France and Germany, Goldfarb writes, there is no denying the profoundly liberating energies that were unleashed when the Jews, like a spring suddenly uncoiled, were enabled to join the larger societies in which they lived. Nor can there be any proper understanding of the larger course of modernity apart from this...
A Talmud for Today A Talmud for Today
Tuesday, December 8, 2009 | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

In Israel and the United States, high-level Talmud study thrives today with an intensity unmatched since the days of the great East European yeshivot. Yet to most English readers the Talmud, the essential Jewish compendium of legal and narrative discussion, remains a closed book—or rather 63 books. All the more reason, then, to welcome a new and expertly edited 900-page selection from the “sea of the Talmud.” What if a dip into the ocean doesn’t suffice? Two English-language editions have come to the aid of the student unversed in the original languages or modes of rabbinic reasoning: a partial translation...
Asymmetric Lawfare Asymmetric Lawfare
Friday, December 4, 2009 | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

The Goldstone Report on Israel’s conduct in the Gaza war, endorsed by the UN General Assembly on November 5, has taken on a life of its own in the court of world public opinion. Increasingly, both its enthusiasts and its detractors see it as a weapon, even more potent than the UN’s Zionism-Racism resolution of November 1975, in a campaign to render illegitimate the very existence of the state of Israel. So loud has the drumbeat over the Report become, and so widening its repercussions, that an entire website—cited in the first item below—is needed to collect the facts and to...
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Editors' Picks
The Progressive Case for Israel David Hirsh, Engage. There are reasons to be ambivalent about nationalism. But Israel now exists in the material world, so to treat it merely as an idea or as a political movement makes it possible to think of eliminating it too.
Faith is Not Quite the Word Martha Himmelfarb, Daily Princetonian. The scholar of religion talks about Israel, interreligious friendship, trends in American Judaism, and her own practice, including saying kaddish for her father, sociographer Milton Himmelfarb. (Interview by Robert George)
What a Country! Sholem Aleichem, Hadassah. One year after immigrating to New York, the celebrated Yiddish humorist used his powers of observation—and embellishment—to describe the new country. (1915, translated by Curt Leviant)
The Suicidal Passion Ruth R. Wisse, Weekly Standard. Who is damaged more by anti-Semitism—Jews, or those who organize politics against them?
Off the Record Jonathan S. Tobin, Contentions. The Palestinian Authority's UNESCO triumph will not only facilitate its efforts to bypass the peace process, but also its campaign to expunge the Jewish heritage of the West Bank and Jerusalem.
Vorsprung durch Technik Katia Moskvitch, BBC News. Israel has more active technology start-ups than any country outside the U.S. In fact, according to one serial entrepreneur, the creation of the country itself was "a start-up on the large scale."
The Case for Intervening in Syria Matthew RJ Brodsky, National Interest. Now that nearly all of the hindrances to American involvement have dissipated, the key to any possible gains in the Arab Spring lies in helping the Syrian uprising succeed.
False Equivalence Nathan Jeffay, Jewish Chronicle. It is supremely irresponsible to equate Shalit's captivity to Pollard's imprisonment, or the former's inhumane abduction by Hamas to the latter's due process in the U.S.
Saintly Scientist Benjamin Ivry, Forward. Co-winner of the 1925 Nobel Prize in physics, James Franck's achievements and extended hand to postwar Germany are long overdue for a returned hand from his native country.
Jordan Starts to Shake Nicolas Pelham, New York Review of Books. Economic necessity has pushed Abdullah II closer to the middle-class Palestinian population and away from his natural base, thus destabilizing the security of his throne.