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Israel & the Near East


Highlights of 2011:<br />Part II Highlights of 2011:
Part II

Friday, December 30, 2011 | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Part II of our round-up of the past year's most popular features on Jewish Ideas Daily. (Part I is here.)
Urban Planning, Hasmonean-Style Urban Planning, Hasmonean-Style
Wednesday, December 28, 2011 by Elli Fischer | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

In the early 1990s, construction began on Modi'in, Israel's new "City of the Future." Designed by renowned architect Moshe Safdie and located mid-way between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, Modi'in is in many ways typical of modern planned communities.
Apologia for Ben-Gurion Apologia for Ben-Gurion
Tuesday, December 27, 2011 by Elliot Jager | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

At this year's yahrzeit ceremony in Sde Boker for David Ben-Gurion (1886-1973), Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with Iran clearly on his mind, emphasized—eight times—Ben-Gurion's capacity for making hard decisions.
Roll, Jordan, Roll Roll, Jordan, Roll
Friday, December 23, 2011 by Alex Joffe | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

The mighty River Jordan cuts a tiny ribbon through the geological depression stretching from Syria to Ethiopia. The river's output is paltry, at most two percent of the flow of the Nile. Today it divides Israel from Jordan, both created only in the 1940s. But for millennia the river has been a thread in Western consciousness.
Loof Loof
Thursday, December 22, 2011 by Micah Stein | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

For the millions of Israeli citizens drafted into the Israel Defense Forces over the past 60 years, military service has involved patriotism, community, self-sacrifice—and Loof, Israel's kosher Spam. But a new generation of soldiers is about to experience military service without the familiar pink meat.
The First War of National Liberation The First War of National Liberation
Wednesday, December 21, 2011 by Diana Muir Appelbaum | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

This is the 2,179th anniversary of the world's first war of national liberation. There have been many since. To a surprising extent, such wars have followed the pattern first established by the Maccabees. They, like later heads of independence movements, were leaders of a people conquered and occupied by a great empire.
In Search of the Moderate Voice In Search of the Moderate Voice
Tuesday, December 20, 2011 by Lawrence Grossman | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Rabbi Haim Sabato is a unique figure on the Israeli scene, both head of a yeshiva and a prominent Hebrew writer. His best known work, the novel titled Adjusting Sights, won Israel's most prestigious literary award and was made into a movie.
The Trouble with Hitchens The Trouble with Hitchens
Friday, December 16, 2011 by Benjamin Kerstein | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

When Christopher Hitchens passed away yesterday at the age of 62, the encomia started pouring in almost immediately. Most of this praise is deserved, as the acumen of Hitchens's muscular criticism and the wit of his ripostes will be with us for a long time to come.
Full Court Press Full Court Press
Wednesday, December 14, 2011 by Elliot Jager | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Israel Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch, equivalent to the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, recently called the Court's critics in the Knesset "robed Cossacks" waging a "campaign of delegitimation" and "incitement."
Newt and the Palestinians Newt and the Palestinians
Tuesday, December 13, 2011 by Alex Joffe | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

It was almost inevitable: Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich has lobbed a grenade into the Republican nomination race, and the subject is Israel.
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Editors' Picks
TV and the War on Terror Tom Streithorst, Prospect. Homeland is a hit not only with the press but with the president—though unlike the Israeli show on which it is based, it doesn't have a clue about terrorism, national security, Iraq, or the CIA.
Is There Such a Thing as Jewish Fiction? , Moment. Howard Jacobson, Geraldine Brooks, A.B. Yehoshua, Shalom Auslander, Walter Mosley, Etgar Keret, André Aciman, Nathan Englander, Nadia Kalman, and others answer.
Caves of Refuge Eli Ashkenazi, Haaretz. A fifth mikveh has been found in the caves on the Galilee's Cliffs of Arbel, indicating that the people who lived there under Roman rule were most likely kohanim, Jews of the priestly class.
The Measure of Marx Shlomo Avineri, Jewish Review of Books. "Rather than focus on biblical sources, I decided to alert [UNESCO] to the fact that there has been a Jewish majority in Jerusalem since the 1850s, before the emergence of Zionism." According to whom? Karl Marx.
Mixed Views Anav Silverman, Huffington Post. Last month, Israel became the first Middle Eastern country to be added to Google Street View. It remains to be seen whether the technology will be a bigger boon to tourists or terrorists.
Paranoid or Realist? Jeffrey Goldberg, Bloomberg. Benzion Netanyahu gave his son, Israel's prime minister, a dark view of the Middle East—and, therefore, the ability to negotiate a realistic peace.
What About Gantz? David Horovitz, Times of Israel. In assessing the Iranian nuclear threat, we should listen to the current head of Israel's military rather than out-of-the-loop retired generals.
Refugees and Resolutions Lyn Julius, Haaretz. Israel is afraid to champion restitution for Jews expelled from Arab countries because of the assumed link to the Palestinian refugee issue.
The Patriarch Michal Shmulovich, Times of Israel. While Benzion Netanyahu will go down in history as a pathbreaking scholar and political activist, Israel's prime minister will remember the father who braved a snowstorm rather than let his son go to bed hungry.
Lions and Angels Adin Steinsaltz, PBS. How did the legendary rabbinic scholar, who was raised in a secular household, become religious? "It was almost spontaneous." (Video)