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History & Politics

Goldstone, Again and Beyond Goldstone, Again and Beyond
Tuesday, February 2, 2010 | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

The UN's Goldstone Report on Operation Cast Lead has taken on a life of its own. Late last week, Israel submitted its own official version of its military operations in Gaza, to which UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon is expected to respond today.  Within Israel, calls for an independent commission of inquiry have found a prominent ally in the state's outgoing attorney general. Meanwhile, Alan Dershowitz, alongside his substantive criticisms of the Goldstone Report, has denounced its author as a Jewish traitor. Intentionally or not, the Report has become a powerful element in the mounting international campaign—warfare conducted as "lawfare"—to delegitimize Israel's very existence as...
Aliyah Aliyah
Wednesday, January 27, 2010 | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Israel has a general immigration problem; it also has an aliyah problem, to use the tradition-honored term for the specifically Jewish act of "going up" to the Land. The two problems are not the same, though in many ways, as a conference this week underlined, they're related.  High-level economic opportunity of the kind that might attract large numbers of Western Jews doesn't exactly beckon. Meanwhile, the country's freedoms and porous borders make it an unregulated haven for hundreds of thousands of foreign non-Jewish laborers, legal and illegal, and declared asylum seekers from the world's trouble spots.  For early Zionist thinkers like...
Shas Shas
Thursday, January 21, 2010 | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

In a first for Israel's ultra-Orthodox parties, the Sephardi-dominated Shas party has joined the World Zionist Organization—another step on the road to becoming a fixed presence in the country's political landscape. Founded in the mid-1980's, Shas has long scrambled conventional categories. Although the party is avowedly haredi, and its leaders tend to imitate both the garb and the ideologically-mobilized politics of Ashkenazi haredim, most Shas voters conduct their lives in a non-haredi, if traditional, style.  As for attitudes toward the state, Shas politicians, unlike their more squeamish Ashkenazi counterparts, serve in the Israeli cabinet and, sometimes, in the IDF. The success...
Let My People In Let My People In
Thursday, January 14, 2010 | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Debates over conversion to Judaism show no sign of abating, least of all in Israel. Last week, the legal adviser to the country's chief rabbinate declared that all conversions may retroactively be annulled at any time. In the ensuing firestorm of criticism, even some on the religious Right chimed in, especially those reflecting a historically more lenient Sephardi approach. A great deal of institutional politics is involved here, including between the ultra-Orthodox in Israel and the Modern Orthodox in the United States; some of this came to light in the recent disgrace and resignation of an ultra-Orthodox foe of the moderates....
And That’s an Order? And That’s an Order?
Wednesday, January 6, 2010 | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

International pressure is mounting on the Netanyahu government to freeze—and eventually remove—Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria. Simultaneously, a heated domestic debate is taking place within the national-religious (Dati Leumi) community over whether religious soldiers can, if push comes to shove, resist a government order to remove settlers from their homes. The argument resonates most strongly in the "Hesder" yeshivot, higher-level schools whose students alternate periods of Talmud study with active military duty. Yesterday, the heads of Har Etzion, a flagship Hesder yeshiva, issued a strong statement against disobedience. The issue is made more acute by the fact that so many religious...
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
Barack vs. Barak Oren Kessler, Foreign Policy. Once Israel’s dovish prime minister, Ehud Barak has emerged as the champion of military action against Iran, much to Washington’s chagrin.
City, Empire, Church, Nation Pierre Manent, City Journal. By creating the nation-state, Europe resolved centuries of tension between Christianity and civic duty. Now Europe has deserted both, but the modern project continues apace. 
The Birth of the Jewish Vote Rafael Medoff, Los Angeles Times. In 1944, as American Jews became frustrated with FDR’s indifference to the fate of Jewish refugees, Benzion Netanyahu saw an opportunity to give them a voice in U.S. politics. 
Ignore Anti-Semitism: Bernstein’s Rules David Bernstein, Forward. Has a fringe group announced an anti-Israel demonstration on campus? Odds are that it’s Israeli and Jewish sources who will give them the publicity they want.
Don’t Know Much ’bout Orthodoxy Yair Rosenberg, Tablet. New York media think an Orthodox woman running for political office is an anomaly among females who are cloistered, uneducated, and subservient. Wrong, wrong, wrong.
Admitting France’s Crimes François Hollande, New York Review of Books. “The challenge is to fight tirelessly against all forms of falsification of history: not only the insult of Holocaust denial, but also the temptation of relativism.”
The Most Dangerous Man in the World Reuel Marc Gerecht, Weekly Standard. The West may hope that Iran would have enough acumen not to actually use a nuclear bomb, but her Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, hasn’t exhibited much sense yet.
Dividing the Druse Isabel Kershner, New York Times. With Syria entrenched in civil war, tensions are rising in the Syrian Druse villages on the Israeli side of the Golan Heights, as opponents of Assad square up against loyalists.
Ten Years after the Hebrew University Bombing Michael Simon, Northwestern Hillel. “July 31, 2002—the 22nd of Av, 5762—was a cruel twist in the Jewish calendar. Instead of nahamu, the comfort we all needed, we had our own Tisha b’Av.”  (Addendum: “A Jewish narrative of pain and destruction is incomplete without an infusion of hope.”)
Another Mormon Trail Rafael Medoff, New York Times. A century before Romney’s visit to Jerusalem, a Utah Mormon missionary and future senator was there—and thirty years later, played a key role in saving Jewish lives in Nazi Europe.