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The Return of Peoplehood The Return of Peoplehood
Friday, July 9, 2010 by Yehudah Mirsky | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Among the various attempts over time to articulate a common, all-embracing sense of identity and direction for the Jews—that sprawling, fractious, and diverse group—the notion of peoplehood has been experiencing something of a revival. The Jewish Agency, for one, has announced that peoplehood will henceforth be the focus of its programming, and Israel will of course play a central role in this effort. But does a central role for Israel actually comport with the broadly inclusive tent that the "peoplehood" rubric seeks to establish? Some say no.
Waiting for the (Political) Messiah Waiting for the (Political) Messiah
Thursday, July 8, 2010 by Elliot Jager | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Israelis are not scheduled to go to the polls until October 2013, but no one would be astonished if some political upheaval forced earlier elections. Several high-profile contenders are already letting it be known that they could be enticed to provide the deliverance Israelis habitually crave, either by starting new parties or by taking leadership roles in existing ones. The saviors waiting in the wings include the photogenic television personality Yair Lapid, who promises to stand up to the "settlers" and the "ultra-Orthodox." Then there is the magnetic Aryeh Deri, once the top vote-getter of the Sephardi ultra-Orthodox Shas party,...
The Mossad The Mossad
Tuesday, July 6, 2010 by Elliot Jager | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Last week, Israel successfully deployed its fourth orbiting spy satellite, hailed by the country's intelligence community as delivering better than expected surveillance of "areas of interest." At the same time, Israel's human-intelligence apparatus, essential as ever to the Jewish state's survival, has come under severe criticism for two of its recent missions: the presumed liquidation of the senior Hamas operative Mahmoud Mabhouh in Dubai and the ill-prepared interdiction of the Gaza-bound Turkish flotilla. Meanwhile, Lebanese authorities continue to sweep up reputed Israeli agents for spying on Hizballah.
An Umbrella for British Jewry An Umbrella for British Jewry
Wednesday, June 30, 2010 by Elliot Jager | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

The Board of Deputies of British Jews, now celebrating its 250th anniversary, is almost certainly the oldest continuously functioning representative body of Jewry in the world. Its first meeting, held at London's Bevis Marks Synagogue in 1760, was recorded in Portuguese, the language of its Sephardi founders. The first complete history of the Board, by Raphael Langham, has just been published—at a moment when neither the Board nor the community it represents is in robust health.
Disabilities Disabilities
Tuesday, June 29, 2010 by Yehudah Mirsky | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Today is 17 Tammuz, a traditional fast day commemorating the last phase of the Babylonian and Roman sieges against ancient Jerusalem. In recent years, thanks to an organization of young religious activists, it has also become a day of reflection on ethical questions in Israeli society. This year's question, the focus of a conference in Jerusalem, concerns the integration of people with disabilities into the normal life of the community.
Constitutions Constitutions
Monday, June 28, 2010 by Yehudah Mirsky | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Among the issues brought to the fore by the recent crisis in Israel over ultra-Orthodox (haredi) schools is the unresolved role of the state's judiciary. Israel has no written constitution. To some, the absence invites disaster. To others, it is what holds Israel together as a Jewish and democratic state.
Gilad Shalit Gilad Shalit
Friday, June 25, 2010 by Elliot Jager | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Today marks four years since Palestinian infiltrators tunneled their way from Gaza into Israel, opening fire on an open-hatched tank, killing two IDF soldiers, and taking the third, Gilad Shalit, prisoner. Before long, Hamas announced it was prepared to exchange Shalit for 1,000 Palestinian security prisoners held by Israel. Then-premier Ehud Olmert declared that Jerusalem would not give in to blackmail. "We will hold no negotiations over the release of prisoners."  That was then.
Trouble in Emmanuel Trouble in Emmanuel
Wednesday, June 23, 2010 by Elliot Jager | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Last Friday, Israel's leading tabloid, Yediot Aharanot, split its front page with two photos. One showed overdressed, black-clad ultra-Orthodox Jews rallying under a withering sun to protest a court decision affecting educational arrangements in the town of Emmanuel; the other showed the pop singer Elton John at a sold-out nighttime concert near Tel Aviv. The headline: "Between Two Worlds." As usual, things are more complicated.
Isolating Gaza Isolating Gaza
Tuesday, June 22, 2010 by Elliot Jager | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

A week ago, in the aftermath of the failed attempt by a Turkish flotilla to defy Israel's maritime quarantine of the Gaza Strip and the ensuing deaths of nine Turkish mercenaries on board, foreign ministers of the 27-nation European Union agreed that Israel's blockade of the Hamas-governed enclave was "unsustainable" and "politically counterproductive." Meeting in Luxembourg, they heard Catherine Ashton, the EU's foreign-policy czar, proclaim that Gaza's "dangerous isolation" had to end.
Identity Check Identity Check
Monday, June 21, 2010 by Yehudah Mirsky | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Central to a recent, hotly-debated essay by Peter Beinart is the contention that younger American Jews, overwhelmingly of liberal disposition, are increasingly distanced and alienated from Israel—and that the major reason why is to be found in Israel's own posture and behavior.  Is this indeed so?
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Editors' Picks
And on the Seventh Day? Hillel Halkin, Wall Street Journal. A new book argues that Israel could have made peace after the Six-Day War; but three unfounded assumptions undermine the author’s claim.
From Russia with Love , Jerusalem Post. While Moscow still supports Syria and Iran in a bid to counter U.S. influence in the Middle East, economic and cultural ties between Russia and Israel have blossomed since the end of the Cold War.
Simmering Sinai Gershom Gorenberg, American Prospect. Clashes at the border coupled with the prospect of a hostile Egyptian government have led to defiant rhetoric in Israel on the Sinai. But for Israel’s security, rhetoric must not translate into military retaliation.
The Resilience of Arab Monarchy Ludger Kühnhardt, Policy Review. How can one explain the almost paradoxical phenomenon that hereditary monarchies have emerged relatively undisturbed from the Arab Spring? 
Halakhic Spring Alex Israel, Thinking Israel. The backlash from Orthodox Jews against kashrut authorities in Jerusalem is a microcosm of a global phenomenon, whereby educated laymen are gaining the confidence to subvert rabbinic authority. 
Tomb Raiders Matti Friedman, Times of Israel. With its tunnels dating from the Jewish revolts against Rome, the area around Modi'in has become a magnet for archeologists—not to mention looters searching for buried treasure.
Elephant in the Room Gil Shefler, Jerusalem Post. Israel's Presidential Conference hosted discussions about the Jewish future with representatives of all Jewish denominations—or, all except Judaism's fastest-growing demographic.
Abortion Politics Arrive in Israel Eetta Prince-Gibson, JTA. Abortion is one issue that has never figured in Israel's political campaigns. But recent calls for a public debate threaten to open a new fault line.
The Maturation of Etgar Keret Bezalel Stern, The Millions. While other Israeli authors write about the country's political or social problems, Etgar Keret focuses on the futility of the human condition. Israel just brings that condition into stark relief.      
Keep Religion out of Israeli Adoptions Jerusalem Post. When conversion becomes a condition for adoption, the process is easily distorted—by pressures on rabbinical conversion court judges and prospective parents.