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Israel & the Near East


A Convenient Hatred A Convenient Hatred
Tuesday, March 6, 2012 by Elliot Jager | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

With some 1,000 books currently in print on the subject, does the world desperately need another tome on anti-Semitism? What difference will it make, when anti-Israelism provides only the latest justification for Europe's persistent prejudice against Jews and anti-Semitic views are shared by 15 percent of Americans and 90 percent of Muslims worldwide?
What Would Ariel Sharon Do? What Would Ariel Sharon Do?
Monday, March 5, 2012 by Alex Joffe | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Biographies of father by sons are an uncertain genre. Closeness necessarily entails distortion, positive or negative. But at a time when the vast majority of Israeli and world leaders seem strikingly small, it is worth considering the portrait of Ariel Sharon provided by his youngest son.
Footnotes to <i>Footnote</i> Footnotes to Footnote
Friday, March 2, 2012 by Michael Fagenblat | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Director Joseph Cedar's film Hearat Shulayim (Footnote) takes place in the Hebrew University Talmud Department, the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, and the (unnamed) Shalom Hartman Institute—the Jerusalem cloisters of the small network of Israel's talmudic academic elite.
Jews, Damned Jews, and Sociologists Jews, Damned Jews, and Sociologists
Thursday, March 1, 2012 by Yehudah Mirsky | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

What is this thing called Jewishness? What does it look like? What are its boundaries? Even the most neutral-sounding answer reflects some position on one side or the other of the crazy-quilt of conflicts that have defined and continue to define Jewish life over the last 200 years.
Jazz, <i>Piyyut</i>, and Jewish Identity Jazz, Piyyut, and Jewish Identity
Tuesday, February 28, 2012 by Omer Avital and Aryeh Tepper | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

The Israeli-born, New York-based Omer Avital is both a world-class jazz musician and a master of classical Arabic music. He recently visited the Tikvah Fund, oud in hand, for an evening of music and free-flowing discussion about jazz, piyyut [liturgical verse], and Jewish identity.
Order in the House Order in the House
Monday, February 27, 2012 by Elliot Jager | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

On a bad day, Israeli parliamentarians have been known to hurl water at political adversaries, denigrate immigrant MKs' Hebrew accents, and even bow their heads in the memory of Palestinian suicide bombers. On a good day, they mostly go about the nuts-and-bolts crafting of bipartisan legislation for the benefit of all Israelis.
BDS Secrets BDS Secrets
Friday, February 24, 2012 by Ran Baratz | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Ubiquitous anti-Israel activist Norman Finkelstein stirred up the blogosphere last week. In a YouTube interview with pro-Palestinian advocate Frank Barat, Finkelstein said that members of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement (BDS) care less for human rights than they do for Israel's destruction.
Evil Genius Evil Genius
Thursday, February 23, 2012 by Alex Joffe | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Very little anti-Semitic literature is new; most of its tropes seem ageless, continually recombined and updated by haters reacting only dimly to their actual circumstances. Few anti-Semitic works exhibit literary or lesser, sociological gifts. The one exception is The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
Do Jews Have a Mormon Problem? Do Jews Have a Mormon Problem?
Wednesday, February 22, 2012 by Elliot Jager | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

The religious values of presidents seldom satisfactorily explain their attitudes toward the Jews. Franklin Roosevelt's Episcopalian faith could not have foretold his hard-hearted policies during the Holocaust.  Harry Truman and Jimmy Carter, both Baptists, went in opposite directions.
Material World Material World
Tuesday, February 21, 2012 by Michael Carasik | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

When is a text not a text? When it is an object. When a Torah scroll is held up in the air so that congregants can view its columns of words, it is not being read. The words that the congregation chants are indeed found in the scroll, but in two different places.
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Editors' Picks
Kidneys and Kindness Devora Steinmetz, Jewish Week. Why one woman chose to donate a kidney to a stranger—and what she makes of the fact that her decision is an unusual one.
Ballpark Figures Jon Paul Morosi, Fox Sports. Through the Law of Return, Israel's national baseball team could recruit a number of established major leaguers.
The Fugees' Score Jonathan Schanzer, Foreign Policy. A new congressional bill could slash the number of Palestinian refugees—but neither the UNRWA nor its beneficiaries is likely to accept this change of status without a fight.
Making "Unofficial" Jews Official Dianna Cahn, Times of Israel. Bulgaria's fast-track conversions for Jews whose identity has been erased under Communism might not meet the standards of the Israeli chief rabbinate—but the alternative is to lose them altogether.
Turkey, with a Slice of Humble Pie Paul Alster, Times of Israel. As his attempts to build an alliance with Syria and Iran have ended in disaster, the Turkish prime minister is trying to rebuild ties with Israel. And Israel should welcome him back.
Unwelcome Aliyah Ira Sharkansky, Jerusalem Post. If Israel's government is right to say that the influx of emigrants from Africa is unsustainable, it is wrong to demonize those already in Israel.
The Battle for Jerusalem Abraham Rabinovich, Times of Israel. Israel's 1967 conquest of the Old City, as celebrated yesterday, has become part of the religious Zionist narrative. But whether or not it was divinely preordained, it was never planned by Rabin.
No Quarter Matti Friedman, Times of Israel. For its two million tourists, the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem's Old City is the historical and spiritual center of Judaism. But the only Jews who lived there before 1948 were those too poor to leave.
The Spirit is Unwilling Mary Pilon, New York Times. Why won't the president of the International Olympic Committee allow for a moment of silence, in "the Olympic spirit," on the tragic anniversary of the 1972 murder of 11 Israeli athletes and coaches?
Masonic Rites in the Holy Land Nadav Shragai, Israel Hayom. Below Jerusalem's Old City, a Freemason "laid my pocket Bible atop the stone in the middle of the cave and three candles around it which shower light . . ."