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Israel & the Near East


Listening to Saddam Listening to Saddam
Thursday, January 26, 2012 by Alex Joffe | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

In the debate over Iran's nuclear intentions, the question of rationality looms menacingly. How do Iran's rulers perceive cause and effect, calculate costs and benefits, and make policy decisions in order to maximize the well-being of their state and citizens? How do they understand the outside world?
Siren Songs Siren Songs
Tuesday, January 24, 2012 by Shlomo Zuckier | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

"For your voice is sweet and your appearance pleasant" (Song of Songs 2:14). On the basis of this verse, Jewish law prohibits a man's listening to kol ishah, a woman's voice in song. Unlikely as it may seem, this prohibition has sparked a controversy that could shake the foundations of Israel's self-defense and self-definition.
Whither the Alawites Whither the Alawites
Friday, January 20, 2012 by Elliot Jager | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Time does not appear to be on the side of Syria's minority Alawite-led regime. President Bashar Assad has reportedly been offered asylum in Moscow, which wants an orderly transition that will preserve Russian strategic interests. Other stories have Assad and his loyalists preparing mountain strongholds for a last-ditch stand.
Jerusalem’s Ego and Id Jerusalem’s Ego and Id
Thursday, January 19, 2012 by Alex Joffe | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Biography is not the same as history. Biography charts the outer and inner life of a person—character, spirit, morality, emotion, perhaps even soul. History, by contrast, incorporates different narratives and pieces of evidence, seeks out new data, then rises above all the fragments with a synthesis.
Our Defenders at the CIA Our Defenders at the CIA
Wednesday, January 18, 2012 by Jonathan Neumann | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

News flash: Top-secret intelligence memos written during the last years of the Bush administration describe covert activities—in intelligence parlance, a "false flag" operation—by Israeli Mossad officers, posing as American CIA agents.
America the Biblical America the Biblical
Tuesday, January 17, 2012 by Diana Muir Appelbaum | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

The Greeks did not invent equality. Socrates, Aristotle, Plato, and the gang famously believed that the rich are different from you and me—not merely because they are shaped by their privileges but because they are actually, literally made of superior stuff.
Gender Trouble Gender Trouble
Monday, January 16, 2012 by Yehudah Mirsky | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Suddenly, it seems, gender segregation is everywhere in Israel—buses, army bases, Jerusalem sidewalks, Beit Shemesh schoolyards and, above all, the front pages. What is going on here? Why is all this happening now? Let's begin with the second question.
Two Palestines, Complete Two Palestines, Complete
Wednesday, January 11, 2012 by Elliot Jager | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Some saw history in the making. With jubilation and fanfare Fatah and Hamas agreed last spring in Cairo to form an interim technocratic administration, hold parliamentary and presidential elections by May 2012 and, ultimately, to establish a national unity government.
The State of Christianity The State of Christianity
Thursday, January 5, 2012 by Elliot Jager | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

On a sun-drenched day during the week before Christmas, Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulchre was crowded with pilgrims from Nigeria. They were taking turns kneeling and praying at a marker on the spot where, sacred history has it, Jesus was crucified, entombed, and resurrected.
The Mughrabi Bridge to Nowhere The Mughrabi Bridge to Nowhere
Tuesday, January 3, 2012 by Alex Joffe | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

From the southern end of the plaza in front of Jerusalem's Western Wall, a temporary wooden bridge ascends eastward to the Mughrabi Gate, the only one of the 11 gates into the Temple Mount area that is accessible to non-Muslims.
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Editors' Picks
The Real Opportunity at Hand Dov Lipman, Jerusalem Post. A stable coalition without the ultra-Orthodox parties means that now there is a real chance for change in Israel's policies toward Haredim.
Press Aftershocks Yossi Nachemi, Times of Israel. The Israeli press has recovered from the surprise announcement of a unity government deal between Likud and Kadima. Now they're grappling with the new political reality.
Anti-Fascist Warrior-Hairdresser Tiffany Gabbay, Blaze. From a Sephardic orphanage to the Haganah to the hair salon, Vidal Sassoon, who died yesterday at age 84, lived a life worth celebrating. (Read an interview with Sassoon here.)
Witnesses to the Bible? Matti Friedman, Times of Israel. Two rare 3,000-year-old models of ancient shrines are among the artifacts claimed by an Israeli archeologist as evidence for the historical veracity of the Bible.
What Next for Netanyahu? David Horovitz, Times of Israel. Just before his colleagues were set to vote the 18th Knesset into history, the prime minister achieved something that he and his supporters will doubtless depict as a political masterstroke. Was it?
Taba via Trouble Yuval Ben-Ami, +972. Disregarding Israel's severe travel warning, one journalist ventures—with his camera—into the Sinai Peninsula. (Photographs)
The Reality of Race Jon Entine, Forward. Historical analysis now depends not only on pottery shards, flaking manuscripts, and faded coins, but on something far less ambiguous: DNA. And the study of Jewish DNA yields some surprising findings.
Search on a Centennial Ben Sales, JTA. One hundred years ago, Yosef Haim Brenner sold a pair of suspenders to fund the publication of S.Y. Agnon's first book—copies of which are now actively sought after.
Foolish, but Consistent Elli Fischer, Times of Israel. There are groups that advocate for allowing Jews to pray on the Temple Mount and there are groups that advocate for freedom of worship at the Kotel. But each group views these "rights" selectively.
Cancelling Conversions Shlomo Brody, Jerusalem Post. Fraud? Sin? A romantic link to a Gentile? Under what circumstances can a conversion to Judaism be annulled?