Anti-Semitism is a very real and toxic plague in history and in modern life. The suffering of the Jews is a well-known and often-told story that must never be forgotten. Jews have a right, based on experience, to fear anti-Semitism. But it also must be said that to be opposed to the policies of a particular Israeli government need not be anti-Semitic. It could simply be smart politics.
On the ground in Jerusalem, one can see how much syndicated columnist Thomas Friedman overlooks. Friedman, the premier media commentator in the U.S. on foreign affairs, would have us believe that—as a liberal Jewish thinker—he doesn’t think Israel should hold on to occupied lands, and he will indeed say that settlements in occupied lands are a bad thing.
The Jewish Agency for Israel reports that in 2000, 6,460 North American Jewish teenagers traveled to Israel on what Newsweek recently described as formative trips “to cement Americans’ connection to their religion.” This year, with the region torn by violence, that number dropped to 200. What does this mean to the Jewish religion?
I am probably not alone in deploring both the suicide bombings carried out by young Palestinians against pathetically vulnerable Israeli civilians and the now predictable military attacks by Israel carried out against pathetically vulnerable Palestinian civilians.
Tucked away in an account of the Jewish resistance to Antiochus Epiphanes is the story of a hero’s sacrifice. The Book of 1 Maccabees describes the prebattle scene. Jewish forces are encamped at Bethzechariah with the enemy directly opposite them, fully armed and ready to fight.
Before the Israeli-Palestinian conflict plunges even further into its cycle of violence, we should pause to examine one day in July when peace almost broke out. After weeks of intense discussions, diplomats from the European Union and the U.S.
On the long climb to Jerusalem I notice two kinds of trucks. One kind is carrying huge battle tanks still muddy from combat in the West Bank. The other is carrying tents sent from America for Palestinians who have lost their homes in the fighting.
A popular Middle Eastern joke insists President Bush’s recent speech on a Palestinian state was delayed for a few days, waiting for a translation from the original Hebrew. The joke reflects Arabic anger that U.S. policy is driven by what the current Israeli leadership thinks is good for Israel.
A senior Israeli official, listening to President Bush’s June 24 speech outlining U.S. policy on the Middle East, kept waiting to hear what pressure the U.S. was going to apply to Israel. He never heard it mentioned. “I thought all the way through the speech: this is the carrot, now comes the stick,” said the official. But “there was no stick.”
On a crisp January morning when most people were struggling with New Year’s resolutions or debating whether the Patriots would get to the Super Bowl, I was snapping my fingers to the tunes of the Century Ensemble.