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Israel & the Near East

Women in Arms Women in Arms
Thursday, December 2, 2010 by Aryeh Tepper | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Israel's core institution is the army. And while the essential function of the army is to protect and defend the country's citizens, it also plays a crucial role in the lives of those who serve in its ranks. Not unlike an American university in this one respect, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is the establishment within which young people build character, form social bonds, and start careers.
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.
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.
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?
Under Islam Under Islam
Thursday, October 21, 2010 by Aryeh Tepper | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

In the two decades following the establishment of the state of Israel, approximately 850,000 Jews were forcibly driven out of Arab lands. Their expulsion marked the beginning of the end of 2,500 years of Jewish life in North Africa, the greater Middle East, and the Persian Gulf. Until recently, their story has been largely unrecognized and untold in the English-speaking world.
All in the (Economic) Family All in the (Economic) Family
Friday, October 15, 2010 by Sam Siegel | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

"PM Orders Panel to Attack Economic Concentration," read the headline of a news story in the October 14 Haaretz. The high-level body, appointed by Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is tasked with proposing legislation to increase competition, restrict "large-scale pyramid-type holdings in public companies," and take other steps to improve stability and efficiency in the country's economy. Some worry that the move will fail, or that the hour is already too late. And thereby hangs a tale.
The Unlovable Avigdor Lieberman The Unlovable Avigdor Lieberman
Wednesday, October 6, 2010 by Elliot Jager | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Avigdor Lieberman's September 28 speech at the UN General Assembly—delivered in English and broadcast live by Al-Jazeera—was not well received at home. Nahum Barnea, the doyen of Israeli left-wing columnists, dismissed his country's foreign minister as a "clown." The editors of Haaretz urged his prompt resignation.
Mr. Abbas, Tear Down This Wall! Mr. Abbas, Tear Down This Wall!
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 by Sol Stern | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

While the world's headlines focus with exaggerated alarm on Israel's lifting of its ten-month building freeze within Jewish West Bank settlements, an issue of far greater moment for the prospects of peace in the Middle East goes determinedly unaddressed. This is the matter of the "right of return" of Palestinian refugees—a subject on which the Obama administration, a fierce promoter of the building freeze, has been strikingly silent.
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Editors' Picks
Don't Make BDS a Religion Lisa Goldman, +972. This speech by Amira Hass, a prominent Israeli journalist of the left—and its presentation by an Israeli website—show how the anti-Israel boycott debate has been affected by Israeli law. (Video)
The Meaning of Hanukkah Jon D. Levenson, Wall Street Journal. In some ways, Christians preserved the story of Hanukkah better than the Jews did.
What's Under the Bridge Shmuel Rosner, New York Times. The bureaucratic brouhaha over the unsound Mughrabi bridge was really about the attempt by some Muslim leaders to deny Jewish ties to the Temple Mount.
Elephants and Homo erectus Arieh O’Sullivan, Media Line. A cave near Tel Aviv may offer up evidence that modern man first emerged not in Africa but in the Middle East—because of a scarcity of elephant meat.
The Jordanian Option Mudar Zahran, Middle East Quarterly. As they watch the rebellions in Egypt, Libya, and Syria unfold, how much longer will the Palestinians in Jordan stand for their mistreatment at the hands of the Hashemite regime?
Diaspora and Disagreement Arnold Eisen, On My Mind. It was never enough for Zionists to proclaim the virtues of life in Israel—they had to argue that Jews could only expect assimilation or anti-Semitism from the Diaspora. Were they wrong?
The Niche Yeshiva Abigail Pickus, eJewish Philanthropy. A secular yeshiva, an academic yeshiva, an environmental yeshiva? Israel is seeing the creation of several pilot programs geared toward ever-slimmer niche communities.
The Riddle of the Mufti Norman Goda, H-Net. Haj Amin al-Husseini threw a long shadow as a precursor to the Arab and Muslim factions whose brand of anti-Semitism borrows much from the Western traditions that they otherwise despise.
The Real Story David Hazony, Forward. In the hysterical response to an ad campaign targeted at expat Israelis, the insecurity of American Jews is laid bare.
Open House Yitzhak Benhorin, Ynet. Rahm Emanuel is now mayor of Chicago, Dan Shapiro turned down the position of Middle East desk chief, and Dennis Ross has resigned. Is there anyone left in the White House who understands Israel?