May 08, 2002
State of siege: Conflict at the Church of the Nativity
As anyone following the news knows, Palestinians and Israelis offer two entirely different accounts of the violence (and two different accounts of what has happened in the region since the emergence of the state of Israel in 1948). The siege at the Church of the Nativity is one more example.
After the assault: Report from the Jenin Camp
Jenin—the name comes from the Arabic and Hebrew words for “garden.” As Moses was leading his people across the Jordanian desert, no doubt they dreamed of a place like this—green and fertile in the springtime, a place where olive and almond trees proliferate. The Palestinians who live in the refugee camp in Jenin have now been refugees longer than the Israelites wandered in the desert.
Speaking up for Israel: Revisionists need revising
Some 25 years ago I met with three major spokesmen of the Palestine Liberation Organization in my capacity as chair of Breira, a Jewish group supporting a two-state solution for Israel/Palestine. Two of the three PLO leaders were soon assassinated. My own life was threatened more than once by the Jewish Defense League. A commitment to peacemaking can be dangerous for those on either side of a conflict.
Who’s counting? Doing the numbers on membership: Doing the numbers on membership
Journalists covering religion regularly cite membership figures for the various religious organizations. They want to give readers an idea of how many people might be affected by developments in a particular group or tradition.
Some religious bodies are attentive to statistics, and their data inspire some degree of confidence. But when the figures seem to be raw estimates in very round and rather high numbers, I am reminded of the big-church pastor who when asked about membership would answer, “Well, evange-statistically speaking . . .”
The infidels are us: Anatomy of a fundamentalist cause
In the wake of the terrorist fury unleashed by Osama bin Laden and his Islamic al-Qaeda organization on September 11, Western analysts have been scrambling to analyze the competing ideologies that have brought about a violent collision between two cultures. The American culture of consumerism and of popular entertainment has spread deep into the Muslim world, and there collided with Islamic fundamentalism’s moral struggle against infidels and their Muslim quislings.
Wages of reform: Welfare policy: A six-year report
Six years after Bill Clinton signed into law a controversial bill ending “welfare as we know it,” Congress is debating how to extend or revise the welfare program. Funding guidelines must be reauthorized by October 1. In February President Bush surprised allies and opponents by proposing to increase the welfare work requirement from 30 to 40 hours per week (the average for private payrolls is a 34-hour work week). He also wants to require states to put 70 percent (up from 50 percent) of their welfare recipients into jobs.
Coming of age
The lyrical road comedy Y Tu Mamá También ("And Your Mother Too") suggests what one of those fraudulent the-summer-I-became-a-man movies might be like if it were made by someone with imagination and sensitivity. The director is Alfonso Cuarón, returning to his native Mexico after a too-brief stint in Hollywood, where neither of his terrific literary adaptations, A Little Princess and a version of Great Expectations set in contemporary Florida and Manhattan, garnered the attention it deserved.
Day of reckoning
A tale of redemption" is a phrase that film critics like to toss around. It usually makes some sense, since most dramas have at least one character who realizes the error of his or her ways and tries to do something about it before the curtain falls--a sort of low-rent form of redemption.